Why focus on Arizona?
I’ve always felt that Arizona had most of the ingredients to have a proper tech ecosystem. If you wanted to get a seed or angel-level check — say $500,000 — you could get it from a variety of local sources. But it’s been harder to find that next level of funding. That’s forced entrepreneurs to get on a plane to raise money.

A lot of local companies failed to raise that next level of capital, but if they did in places like Salt Lake City, Denver or California, there’s almost a gravitational pull to the person that wrote the check. If there’s a good financial outcome, any windfall typically gets enjoyed and recycled in the location where the check was written. We’ve missed out on this flywheel effect.

And you produce movies?
I overlapped at Hamilton College with Thomas Tull, the founder of Legendary Entertainment, which made The Hangover series, Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy. We knew each other through a trustee in our network and he asked me to get involved in Act of Valor, a 2012 film about a team of Navy Seals. We went to work together on a few more projects after that.

I reconnected with childhood friends to start High Frequency Entertainment in 2014. We’ve made several films and the most recent one, Memory, now in post-production, was Jessica Chastain’s first after winning an Oscar this year. We also have Windfall out on Netflix with Lily Collins, Jason Segel and Jesse Plemons. It’s a very different world to tech. It exercises another part of your brain.

I usually make a few appearances during our movie shoots to ensure we’re on budget and on time as it’s my money at stake. It’s important we keep a strict discipline in that respect. We end up doing two to three films a year on average. The work ebbs and flows — it’s very manageable.

How does your Thiel Capital role fit in?
I’m a managing director at Thiel Capital. I don’t manage anybody and it’s a very flexible arrangement. Peter’s a very good friend. He’s been very kind to let me adjust the dial as I’ve needed. The new fund is going to take up a fair amount of my time to get it off the ground.

Any political ambitions?
I'm now a stakeholder in Arizona, so I feel I have a responsibility within the community to make sure we just stay normal and business-friendly. I'm certainly in favor of outcomes for that, but I’m much less in favor of those that are more extreme, whether on the left or the right. The only type of involvement I would have is very much behind the scenes. There's definitely no ambitions to run for office or anything like that.

How do you relax?
I love to hike. I spend my summers in Teton Village, Wyoming, just outside of Jackson. I can go out my back door and run up a mountain and then take a gondola down. In Phoenix, the town clears out in the summer because it’s so warm. Most folks get away and go to the beach or the mountains. I choose the mountains, and Wyoming is my happy place.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

First « 1 2 » Next