Reed Jobs, the son of Apple (AAPL) founder Steve Jobs, entered the spotlight for the first time last month while unveiling his venture capital fund, Yosemite. But he’s not in Silicon Valley to follow his late father’s footsteps or to be famous.
“Notoriety is very low on my priority list,” Jobs, 31, said during an onstage interview at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco yesterday (Sept. 19).
Yosemite has raised more than $200 million in venture funding with the goal of discovering new cancer treatments, an area Jobs has been passionate about since he was a teenager when Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“All I really care about in this world is making a huge difference for cancer patients,” Jobs, speaking in a manner reminiscent of his late father, told TechCrunch’s new editor-in-chief Connie Loizos. “What I want to do in my entire life is to make cancer non-lethal in our lifetimes…That’s what I want to be known for.”
Named after the national park where Jobs’s parents got married in 1991, Yosemite has an unusual structure as both a for-profit venture capital fund and a nonprofit organization. About 2.5 percent of the fund is dedicated to a donor-advised fund that makes no-strings-attached grants to scientists. Jobs believes it’s the most effective approach to support new drug discovery because grants allow scientists to focus on early-stage research without having to worry about investment return and VC funding can come in later on to help scale and commercialize a successful new drug.
Yosemite is a spinoff of Emerson Collective, a philanthropic and investment organization founded by Jobs’s mother, Laurene Powell Jobs. There, Jobs was the managing director of health for eight years, leading the firm’s programs in health care with a focus on oncology.
Jobs said he’d had success with the donor-advised fund model when managing investments at Emerson Collective. One example is Tune Therapeutics, a company that develops epigenetic therapies that reprogram genes. The company’s work started with an Emerson grant and was later incorporated into a business with investments from the firm.
Jobs said he decided to set up Yosemite as a separate firm because he “wanted a little bit of independence.” When asked why he chose to be an investor instead of starting his own company, Jobs said he feels he can make a greater impact by supporting multiple businesses instead of running just one.
“Given the trends in the market, and really in science, it’s really outpacing what any one company is likely able to do,” he said. “I also am just innately very competitive. You know, in my family, if you’re going to start a company, it’s got to be a hit.”
Yosemite is funded by a group of individual and institutional investors including venture capitalist John Doerr, who was a close friend of Steve Jobs’s, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The firm invests in three areas of cancer treatment: early detection, immunotherapy, and digital health, such as technology that optimizes clinical trials. Jobs said, without disclosing names, he has already found a few promising startups, including a project that came out of MIT and another from Yale.
Steve Jobs had four children: 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.
Correction: A previous version this article contained inaccurate information about Steve Jobs’s marriage history. The article has also been updated to reflect Yosemite’s fundraising amount in the third paragraph.