“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
Those words were written in 2011 by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and Palantir (PLDR), and the first outside investor in Facebook. He wrote them as part of a manifesto for his venture fund, Founders Fund.
His comment was a reference to the state of early-stage investing back then — specifically, that the venture industry seemed to be focusing on light-minded apps like Twitter, rather than on transformational technologies like flying cars.
And certainly, billions of dollars have been tossed at frivolous startups over the years. But if you dig deeper, you’ll quickly see that Thiel’s comment, while poetic, is off the mark:
Plenty of investors have been funding startups that are transformational.
In fact, many of these startups are saving lives — and as you’ll learn today, they’re changing the fortunes of early investors just like you.
Literally Saving Lives
To set the stage here, let me back up for a minute…
As you’re likely aware, the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus was administered earlier this week in New York City.
But the U.S. government has just 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That’s not nearly enough for everyone who wants or needs a dose.
Which is why, last Friday, the U.S. government bought an additional 100 million doses from Moderna Therapeutics (MRNA).
Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the Moderna doses should “give Americans greater confidence we will have enough supply to vaccinate all Americans who want it by the second quarter of 2021.”
Tomorrow, Moderna’s vaccine is up for review at an FDA advisory panel. And it’s likely to be approved for use by Friday.
These are exciting times for Moderna. This company is literally saving lives. So it’s hard to believe that, just a few years ago, it was a tiny startup…
A Tiny Startup Grows
In 2010, one year before Peter Thiel wrote his manifesto about flying cars, a biotech company got started in Massachusetts.
In its first funding round, the company raised about $2 million. At the time, it was valued at about $8 million.
Fast-forward ten years… and today, that company is helping put an end to the most horrific global health crisis in more than one hundred years.
That company is Moderna.
And by the way, as the importance of its technology and vaccine have grown, so has its market cap: it’s now worth about $60 billion.
That means its earliest investors have made an estimated 7,500x their money…
That’s enough to turn a tiny $500 stake into about $3.75 million.
Everything Starts Small
Of course, Moderna isn’t the only startup today working on transformational ideas.
In the biotech world, for example, a startup called Lucira Health just received FDA approval for a Covid-19 test that can be self-administered at home. This opens the door for us to reopen schools, offices, and restaurants — and help us get back to “normal.”
And meanwhile, dozens and dozens of startups are working on important ideas ranging from sending aircraft into space, to, you guessed it, flying cars.
All the Right Reasons
Plenty of early-stage investors have made fortunes by getting in at the ground floor of light-minded startups like Facebook, Twitter, or Snap.
And if you ask me, aiming to earn a fortune is an excellent reason to make an investment.
But keep in mind…
Plenty of startups today are aiming to transform how we live, and even how long we’ll live.
Whether you’re interested in building a fortune, helping humanity by fostering transformation, or anything in between, there are no wrong reasons to invest in startups!
Here are a few for you to explore today — from a potentially transformational at-home diagnostic testing company, to an esports betting platform, to “WeWork for Weed.”
Please note: Crowdability has no relationship with any of the startups we write about. We’re an independent provider of education and research on startups and alternative investments.