David de Jesus, Managing Director of Action Ventures, is a venture investor, business builder, and experienced software engineer with over 10+ years of broad technical expertise. Private Equity Enthusiast.
Jeffery: Just like in our fashion, David, we’re right into things, so we’ll just keep going. But thank you, and very much for joining us. So welcome to Supporters Fund, Ask An Angel. And today we’re really excited that we get to dive into everything that you’re doing in Los Angeles, David. So maybe the best way to start is if you can give us a bit of a background idea on kind of where you’ve come from, the things that you’re currently working on, and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
David: Yeah, cool. I, I’ll do like a quick two minute. Started my, you know, career at Microsoft, came to LA to go to the engineering route and work for a couple startups that exited, and eventually found myself at Red Bull in a senior engineering role. Held a senior title for about three years and after three years, launched my corporate innovation studio called POGx, and from there made a couple annual investments. And in 2020, I attended (inaudible 1:06) University to kind of fulfill a little bit more of my investing capability because I, you know, I think it’s just like anyone else that’s just jumping into angel investing. Didn’t really know exactly what they were doing right off the bat, but had a lot of network, had a lot of, you know, friends that are founders. So that was, it was easy to learn from them and then (inaudible 1:26) university kind of took that to the next level and they also helped me to launch Action Ventures. So Action Ventures is a boutique syndicate made up of LPs, mixed family offices, and other business owners we invest in high performance ventures, we like to say. High performance just means something of an incredible unfair advantage, you know, very, it could be a really strong engineering team, it could be a really strong financial engineering perspective. So we’re just kind of looking for unfair advantages in that sense and that’s what we consider ‘high performance’. And then we write check sizes, in the size of 250k through a syndicate and then all throughout kind of this angel investing thing, I’ve been writing a bunch of small checks. So it’s, that’s actually been pretty fun as well. So it’s we can get into that but yeah definitely.
Jeffery: I love it. Well, I kind of want to and one thing about you before we jump. I always, almost forget this but one thing about you nobody will know.
David: Nothing really out there that says it, but I grew up in a small village in Alaska called Barrow Alaska. They recently changed their name back to the first people’s name called (inaudible 2:43), but yeah. I grew up in a small Alaskan town.
Jeffery: That’s amazing! That’s very cool, so you’re almost Canadian then.
David: Almost. I mean, there’s like, there’s definitely some, you know, first people’s, you know, culturals that I like, that I really took in. I can escort that so..
Jeffery: I like it. We’re going to call you Canadian. Anyways, so probably who’s out there, meet David. He’s Canadian and he’s growing up in the snow. So we’re welcoming you in. That’s amazing, that’s pretty cool. I still think Alaska should be totally 100% part of the Canadian side of everything because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I’m gonna go with it anyways.
David: I know that, that would be an interesting kind of like, history analysis to look at, but yeah it’s interesting. Oh, by the way, Alaska does have one of the most active, you know, LP, like endowments as a sovereign nation and such, so pretty interesting. I’d love to see their BC performance but they’re pretty active.
David: Oh yeah, that’d be pretty cool.
Jeffery: I’m going to guess that during the winter months which are longer. They may have some time on their hands and they’re probably looking at maybe getting into ventures. So I can see a big opportunity there. I think I’m going to have to start finding some people there. Well, you know, some people in, let’s work together on this one. I love it.
David: Yeah, cool.
Jeffery: Very good, very good. So I kind of want to go back to some of the past and some of the things that you did throughout the Red Bull and the Microsoft days, how much of that do you think is really built into what you’re doing today?
David: Yeah, it’s, that’s a pretty good question. I came to Microsoft as an analyst. Yeah, I thought that I was going to go with the business route. When in fact, a couple of mentors at Microsoft kind of deterred me and said it kind of convinced me to go toward the engineering route. I actually loved the immediate, you know, incentive. So when you launch something, you release something. You write a little bit of code, you kind of get that like, quick hit of feedback and you ship it. And so learning how to code was a really interesting thing while working a full-time job. But we did it and then also at Microsoft and, you know, with my entrepreneur mindset, I always knew that I wanted to build something but in Microsoft, we built, I put on the intrapreneur hat and we built tools that helped us, you know, transfer data to sales teams, and that, you know, so and so forth. The team that I was on, specifically, was called the ‘traffic quality team’ and it was click advertising, and it’s at, its like peak thing had just acquired the yahoo click feed. We’re at this like peak moment where they’re getting so much data, just tons of data on the platform and in the process we had to figure out, you know, algorithms and things that are happening that prevented huge fraudulent activity, and so in order to do that we had to come up with tools and processes internally. That’s what really got me excited. Fast forward, a lot of that work that was done for click forensics and such was somewhat rewarded because the digital crimes unit at Microsoft was able to solve a big, I think 90 million dollar or so case, and that was a lot of the work and analytics that we did. Came to LA because I also found that it was peak Windows phone, it was peak iPhone. So I realized that, you know, I could either create a career or build technologies that were, you know, simple, fast, and easy to get out there and it was amazing. It was easy to do. Kind of as a first stepping stone and then you start to get into the full stack, and you start to get into data. And so, the start that I came to LA for was a, it was an inventory management product and, you know, built everything top to bottom. Me and another engineer, and then we shipped it, and 18 months later, they were required, moved into another type of aspect which was streaming. So streaming is what got me into Red Bull, we kind of did a lot of digital streaming, and at the time, it was, it hadn’t been figured out yet. Like holding data and holding content on a phone was, you know, whether you encrypted it on the phone and like prevented people from stealing the movie, for example. Those were little things that we had to figure out and then I think after that, it was just mostly distributed and mobile, so like how else can you figure out, you know, putting out a, I think the last thing actually, I worked on, code wise, was a react native, you know, application that was distributing content, 4k content. So it was pretty interesting and then that leads to my investing, you know, kind of thesis which is I can take apart consumer internet products. I can take apart distributed cloud products and anything that has to do with mobile and experiences. So that leads to marketplaces, you know, apps and like technology stack development where you’re looking at edge products, IOT. I think that I’m actually really excited. One of the companies I invested in was, is called Macrometa. You know, one of my fourth or fifth markups right now. Really excited about that but it was it’s edge software. So it was, I was able to understand the problem that they’re trying to solve at the enterprise level as well. So to shorten that up, it does give the engineering side, does definitely give you a lens into what might be coming in terms of technology and as innovation just kind of keeps going like at a ridiculous rate. I’m really excited for, you know, the kids that are entering engineering right now, what they’re going to come up with, what they’re going to identify as opportunity. So it might be way far from where I ended for my engineering career and that’s kind of exciting for me. So I don’t actually have to be an engineer to understand it anymore. I think it’s, I think things are way farther now than where I ended, to be honest as well. So..
Jeffery: And you still go in to, dive into the code side, so when you’re lo