Meet The VC Who’s Betting On A Better World In 3D: Gilman Louie

by Giovanni Rodriguez
Originally published in Forbes. Reprinted with permission from the author.

On a bright weekday morning last Spring, I found myself stranded outside a small, non-descript building on Howard Street in San Francisco, desperately trying to figure out how to get in. I got the address right, according to Google Maps. But there was no sign on the building, and no obvious way to enter. Three thoughts/feelings occurred to me. One, an easier portal into the space would have been welcome. Second, the experience felt like a test. Third — and perhaps the most persistent sentiment, because I feel it to this day — it was actually an appropriate experience because of the people inside that building.

Perhaps it was a test. The people inside that building were Stewart Alsop and Gilman Louie, founders of the fast emerging VC firm Alsop Louie Partners (one of their first big scores: Twitch, which sold for almost $1 billion in 2014; more about that at the end of the article). It’s a special firm. I knew Stewart from a startup he invested in more than 10 years ago, and recently met up with him to check out one of his most recent investments, a startup called Hover which enables contractors to use a smartphone to create an accurate 3D model of a home and which they can later use to spec, price, and do work on the home. After the meeting, Stewart and I chatted briefly. I was impressed, I said. I had been following, from near and from afar, some of the more interesting developments in 3D and AR, and this seemed like a potential B2B market disruption.

“You should come meet Gilman,” said Stewart. “He’s beginning to see the whole world in terms of 3D, where everything might be interconnected online and offline.” When I finally caught up with Gilman, I began to understand the different kinds of border crossings — from one world to another — that one would have to navigate to make a new world in 3D a reality. One border crossing: from the ‘inside’ to the ‘outside’, which I was reminded of on Howard Street before I finally figured out how to get inside the building.

Military Meets Games

Gilman Louie (the Geek)

Based on what little I knew about Gilman, I thought there might be some other test: whether I was smart enough to break into the building.

Many know of Gilman from his tour of duty as the founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, a strategic venture fund serving the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The gig created an air of mystery about the man which may have obscured his own reality. Before he entered

Continue reading "Meet The VC Who’s Betting On A Better World In 3D: Gilman Louie"

Gilman Louie: Cybersecurity: Time for Action

Gilman Louie on what this current administration must address in order to meet the growing cyber challenges of the 21st century. This article was originally published on The Cipher Brief

U.S. failure to fully develop and implement a comprehensive cyber security strategy created the perfect opportunity for Russia to attack the Democratic National Committee computer network, and enabled them to meddle and interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

Years of bickering by federal agencies – over which agency was in charge, who had which jurisdictions, who was going to pay, what information could be shared, what should be the role of the private sector, privacy and liability concerns, and who should be accountable – has left the United States with numerous cyber vulnerabilities, so that any country, non-state actor, or trained individual with reasonable skills can attack this country with little to no consequence.

Our country has failed to take the necessary actions to protect and secure its digital infrastructure and assets. Over 80 percent of U.S. businesses are hacked every year; some of our most valuable military technologies, data, and intellectual property have been stolen; and 21.5 million personnel records, including numerous caches of security clearance information, have been hacked. This is not the result of technology failing, but of failed policies and leadership.

These failures have created a window for emboldened hackers.  Countries, as well as non-state actors, no longer attempt to cover their tracks. The lack of sufficient consequences, combined with increasing profitability, has made attacks on high value targets in the United States something to brag about.

While there have been numerous cyber commissions, working groups, task forces, studies, and plans – such as the Cybersecurity National Action Plan of 2016, Commission on Enhancing National Security, Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, National Cyber Incident Response Plan, and National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace – as well as thousands of recommendations over the past 15 years, our country is more vulnerable today to cyber attacks, espionage, influence, ransom, and theft than it was 15 years ago.

This month, the Center for Strategic and International Studies Cyber Policy Task Force released a cybersecurity agenda for the 45th president This task force grew out of years of frustration over the lack of an effective national effort to protect cyberspace, and the growing concerns around cyber risks and vulnerabilities. Comprised of the leading cybersecurity experts from industry, academia, and government, the task force’s goal is to help the Administration establish a robust and effective plan that will create a secure and stable digital environment that supports continued economic growth while protecting personal freedoms and national security.

The task force laid out five vital recommendations Continue reading "Gilman Louie: Cybersecurity: Time for Action"

Gilman Louie: The Art of the Deal – with China

Gilman Louie and Joseph DeTrani address how the new administration can navigate the U.S. – China relationship. This article was originally published on The Cipher Brief.

President Trump said he wants to improve relations with China, but he has expressed concern with China’s theft of intellectual property, unfair taxes for U.S. companies in China, currency manipulation, product dumping and failing to reign in North Korea.  He took a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan and questioned the “One China Policy.”  Many of his appointees have strong and divergent views on the issue.

Although the economies of the U.S. and China are mutually dependent, the possibility of a trade war cannot be dismissed.  Politically, tension in the South China Sea could purposely or accidentally devolve into military conflict.  Both scenarios can and should be avoided.

President Trump is an accomplished negotiator and in his book, The Art of the Deal, he describes several negotiating tactics that could be key to resetting U.S.-China relations. Here are a few we think are particularly applicable:

Think Big – Design a plan that benefits both the U.S. and China.  The U.S. has to modernize its manufacturing sector, return jobs lost to offshoring, incentivize U.S. companies to repatriate capital and invest that capital into infrastructure and manufacturing capacity – as well as open the Chinese market to U.S. goods, especially services.

While China has done well in some areas of consumer and manufacturing innovation, it needs to increase its innovation in all areas of its economy.  China graduates more PhDs in science and engineering, leads the world in patent applications and spends more in R&D than any other country outside of the U.S.  However, its level of creative innovation does not translate relative to their investments.  China must transform itself from the center of low cost manufacturing to a center of high quality innovation. The U.S. can help China to ”rebalance” from an export-driven economy to a domestic consumption economy.

The export growth that fueled China’s economic expansion is slowing, while industrial and manufacturing jobs have declined from a peak of 30.3% in 2012 to 29.3% in 2015.  Chinese exports fell by 2.8% in 2015, due to weaker global demand. GDP growth in 2015 and 2016 was below 7%, the weakest economic growth since 1990. Industrial production has been on the decline for the past six years.  Demand for production from State Owned Enterprises (SOE) has been close to zero while overseas demand for Chinese exports has been on the decline for the past two years.  The only strong Continue reading "Gilman Louie: The Art of the Deal – with China"

Gilman Louie: An Open Letter to the Secretary of Defense Nominee

This article was originally published on The Cipher Brief: President-elect Donald Trump recently announced he will nominate retired United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Gilman Louie, founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, has written an open letter to General Mattis to suggest how the Defense Department can improve its digital capabilities in order to maintain its military edge.

Dear General Mattis,

Congratulations on your nomination as the new Secretary of Defense.  As you already know, you will be inheriting the most powerful military in the world. As a warfighter, you already understand the current challenges facing the Department of Defense.  Technology, geopolitics, asymmetric threats, terrorism, a rising China, and an emboldened Russia are all forces that must galvanize transformation within the Department.  While there are many initiatives within the Department aimed at creating new capabilities and countering new threats, I want to emphasize a particular capability that we’ll need in order to maintain our military edge.

The world has gone digital and so must the military. Digital dominance must become the goal for this Department, and this goes beyond just cyber security. Our ability to sense, share, integrate, coordinate, and act will depend on maintaining digital superiority over our adversaries.

Digital dominance means finding ways to collect, transform, and process more efficiently than our adversaries. It means we must strive to rule and shape the digital domain while limiting or denying access from opposing forces.

Our current military is highly dependent on its ability to have access and control of the digital domain.   Software drives our military systems and platforms.  Our navigation and high-precision weapons delivery systems are largely dependent on GPS.  Our ability to disseminate, share, and communicate on air superiority platforms like the F-22 and F-35 require that we have tactical digital links like Link 16.  The digital sensors and weapon systems that protect our ships and detect our threats require real-time digital sensing and processing that give our Navy the situational awareness to operate on the open seas.

Our ability to protect our data and information is also critical.  Cyber security breaches within the Office of Personnel Management, the theft of our weapon system designs, the disclosure of our electronic collection capabilities, and the publishing of our State Department communications have all significantly eroded our country’s defense capabilities, disclosed our sources and methods, and put our personnel at risk.

In the near future, we could find ourselves in an artificial intelligence (AI) arms race with China and Russia.  AI enables autonomy, and that technology will drive future weapons and sensor platforms. Whoever possesses the superior Continue reading "Gilman Louie: An Open Letter to the Secretary of Defense Nominee"

Gilman Louie: An Open Letter to the Secretary of Defense Nominee

This article was originally published on The Cipher Brief: President-elect Donald Trump recently announced he will nominate retired United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Gilman Louie, founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, has written an open letter to General Mattis to suggest how the Defense Department can improve its digital capabilities in order to maintain its military edge. Continue reading "Gilman Louie: An Open Letter to the Secretary of Defense Nominee"

Gilman Louie: The DoD is About to Undergo its Biggest Transition Since WWII

This article was published at Business Insider

The Department of Defense is about to undergo its biggest transition since 1946.

After winning World War II, the United States military had to transform itself in order to meet the demands of a new world order. The weapons systems that we invested in to win WWII were rapidly becoming obsolete.

The symbol of America’s airpower in WWII, the P-51, was completely outclassed by the time of the Korean War. Our best WWII tank, the Pershing M-26, had to be withdrawn from the battlefields of Korea. By the late 1950s, most of the US capital ships from WWII were transferred to other nations, mothballed or scrapped.

In 1946, we had just begun to transition from piston engine aircraft to jets, from conventional weapons to nuclear, from bombs to ballistic missiles.

It was the dawn of the computer age, television, and the first mobile telephones. It was also the beginnings of the Cold War, the peasant revolutions, the global rise of Communism and Socialism, and a bipolar world dominated by two superpowers, the United States and the USSR.

Looking back at 1946, it’s clear that many of the strategies we used to win WWII did not apply to how we had to fight in places like Korea and Vietnam. The Defense Department was not just waging a military fight, but an ideological battle as well.

Today, seventy years later, the Department finds itself at another crossroads. Work has already begun under Secretary Ash Carter to develop the next “offset” strategy for the department.

New disruptive technologies like autonomy, hypersonics, energy and particle weapons, cube sats, quantum computing, neural man-machine interfaces, cyber, big data, machine learning, swarming, and sensor networks will change how we defend and fight as well.

These disruptive technologies will make just about every deployed military system within the last two decades obsolete. In this new world, data, software, and algorithms are just as important – if not more so – than the hardware they live in.

Colonel Boyd was a USAF fighter pilot and a military strategist. He observed that military decision-making was made in continuous cycles of observe, orient, decide, and act – known as the OODA loop.

He realized that an entity or individual who could continuously perform the OODA loop more quickly than their opponents would not only survive but win. Over the past sixty years, the OODA loop has been applied to everything from dogfighting to business strategy. Time-based competition has become the foundation of strategic capability.

In the near future, Colonel Boyd’s famous OODA loop will be replaced with the SSICA loop which stands for Sense, Share, Integrate, Coordinate and Act. Warriors that can execute Continue reading "Gilman Louie: The DoD is About to Undergo its Biggest Transition Since WWII"

Gilman Louie: The DoD is About to Undergo its Biggest Transition Since WWII

This article was published at Business Insider

The Department of Defense is about to undergo its biggest transition since 1946.

After winning World War II, the United States military had to transform itself in order to meet the demands of a new world order. The weapons systems that we invested in to win WWII were rapidly becoming obsolete.

The symbol of America’s airpower in WWII, the P-51, was completely outclassed by the time of the Korean War. Our best WWII tank, the Pershing M-26, had to be withdrawn from the battlefields of Korea. By the late 1950s, most of the US capital ships from WWII were transferred to other nations, mothballed or scrapped.

In 1946, we had just begun to transition from piston engine aircraft to jets, from conventional weapons to nuclear, from bombs to ballistic missiles.

It was the dawn of the computer age, television, and the first mobile telephones. It was also the beginnings of the Cold War, the peasant revolutions, the global rise of Communism and Socialism, and a bipolar world dominated by two superpowers, the United States and the USSR.

Looking back at 1946, it’s clear that many of the strategies we used to win WWII did not apply to how we had to fight in places like Korea and Vietnam. The Defense Department was not just waging a military fight, but an ideological battle as well.

Today, seventy years later, the Department finds itself at another crossroads. Work has already begun under Secretary Ash Carter to develop the next “offset” strategy for the department.

New disruptive technologies like autonomy, hypersonics, energy and particle weapons, cube sats, quantum computing, neural man-machine interfaces, cyber, big data, machine learning, swarming, and sensor networks will change how we defend and fight as well.

These disruptive technologies will make just about every deployed military system within the last two decades obsolete. In this new world, data, software, and algorithms are just as important – if not more so – than the hardware they live in.

Colonel Boyd was a USAF fighter pilot and a military strategist. He observed that military decision-making was made in continuous cycles of observe, orient, decide, and act – known as the OODA loop.

He realized that an entity or individual who could continuously perform the OODA loop more quickly than their opponents would not only survive but win. Over the past sixty years, the OODA loop has been applied to everything from dogfighting to business strategy. Time-based competition has become the foundation of strategic capability.

In the near future, Colonel Boyd’s famous OODA loop will be replaced with the SSICA loop which stands for Sense, Share, Integrate, Coordinate and Act. Warriors that can execute Continue reading "Gilman Louie: The DoD is About to Undergo its Biggest Transition Since WWII"

Gfycat raises $10 million to help creatives fire up the memes

Gfycat co-founders: Dan McEleney, Richard Rabbat and Jeff Harris. A startup called Gfycat (which is pronounced “Jiffy Cat”) has raised a mammoth $10 million seed round to turn its already popular user-generated content platform into a revenue generating concern. On the content creation side of its business, the startup reports that 2.5 million unique users have already created 25 million “Gfycats,” or short, silent, looping animations… Read More