I don’t care about your background or where you started. I care about where you’re going.
At age 13, Adam enrolled at UC Berkeley, where he studied mathematics and conducted research in number theory and cryptography. He went on to work as a mathematician for the Department of Defense and as a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Stanford InfoLab.
Adam graduated from Stanford with a BS in computer science, with a concentration in systems. He was also an early product manager at Rubrik, a Lightspeed portfolio company, and moonlighted as a technical consultant for HBO’s Silicon Valley.
In 2016, Adam left Rubrik to become a partner at Lightspeed. “My entire life, I’ve optimized for learning,” he says. “Venture is the epitome of learning. You spend all your time with people who are experts in their field. What other job lets you do that?”
At Lightspeed he’s focused on investments in blockchain companies and crypto networks, and he cofounded crypto investment firm Standard Crypto in 2019.
What does he look for in founders? The first quality is rationality quotient, or RQ—whether or not a person has the humility to recognize what he or she doesn’t know. The second quality is discernment. “If somebody says every meal they have is the best meal of their life, is their judgement really that great? You want the person who can list their top three with a clear mental framework,” he says.
But ultimately, he believes the most important quality a founder brings to the table is an eye for the future and a clear idea of what it will take to get there.
“I’m used to being the youngest person in the room,” he says. “Because of that, I don’t care about your background or where you started. I care about where you’re going. Potential trumps experience every time.”