20VC Who Will Own The Data Is There An Incumbency Advantage in AI When Will Artificial Super Intelligence Come To The Forefront with Rudina Seseri, Founder and Managing Director @ Glasswing Ventures

Summary Notes


In this episode of the 20 minutes VC, host Harry Stebbings interviews Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund based in Boston. Rudina shares her journey from Microsoft's corporate development group to venture capital, emphasizing the importance of people and execution in startups. She discusses the transformative power of AI, particularly narrow AI, driven by pervasive connectivity, data abundance, and reduced storage costs. Rudina predicts the mainstream adoption of AI and self-driving cars within the next decade, stressing the need for ethical standards and consumer data control. She also outlines Glasswing Ventures' strategy, focusing on deep AI knowledge to disrupt enterprise sectors and create new categories like social robotics. The episode concludes with Rudina's vision for Glasswing Ventures to become a top-tier, transparent, and transformative firm.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Rudina Seseri and Glass Wing Ventures

  • Rudina Seseri is the founder and managing partner of Glass Wing Ventures, an AI-focused fund based in Boston.
  • Prior to Glass Wing, Rudina was a partner at Fairhaven Capital and served on the boards of several companies.
  • She has experience as a senior manager in Microsoft's corporate development group, focusing on acquisitions and strategic investments.
  • Rudina has also been an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School and an advisor for L'Oreal USA and Women in Digital.

"Well, today's guest is so bullish on the future of AI, she has a fund devoted purely to AI, and I'm delighted to welcome Rudina Cesari, founder and managing partner of Glass Wing Ventures, a Boston AI-focused fund."

The quote highlights the dedication of Rudina Seseri to the field of AI and introduces her as the guest who has founded an AI-centric venture fund.

Harry Stebbings' Presence and Interests

  • Harry Stebbings is the host of the 20 minutes VC podcast.
  • He is active on Snapchat, sharing content about mojito making, startup stories, and venture capital discussions.
  • Harry is interested in the impacts of meditation and promotes Headspace, a meditation app.
  • He also endorses Luma, a surround Wi-Fi system that enhances internet connectivity and control for home networks.

"You are listening to the 20 minutes VC with your host Harry Stebings, and you can find me on Snapchat at h stepbings for mojito making madness, startup stories, and of course, plenty of vc chat."

The quote introduces Harry Stebbings as the host of the podcast and gives insight into his personal interests and social media activity.

Rudina Seseri's Venture Capital Experience

  • Rudina has over a decade of experience in venture capital, focusing on early-stage investments, particularly in Series A and seed rounds.
  • Her experience spans both enterprise and consumer platform investments.
  • Rudina's transition to venture capital was influenced by her partner at Glass Wing Ventures, who she met during her business school years.
  • The transformative power of capital when paired with the right leaders and founders is a key motivator for her.

"Gosh, I've been in venture now for about a decade, working on early stage investments and companies, particularly series a and seed, both on the enterprise as well as consumer platform side."

This quote summarizes Rudina's extensive experience in venture capital and her focus on early-stage investments.

Insights from Rudina Seseri's Time at Microsoft

  • Large organizations like Microsoft face challenges in self-disruption and innovation.
  • The ability to drive change within a large tech company is difficult, and successful self-disruption is rare.
  • Rudina points out Apple as an exception due to its near-death experience and subsequent revival by Steve Jobs.
  • Strategic investments at large companies are complex due to mixed priorities and the difficulty in measuring results.
  • Acquisitions can be double-edged, creating or destroying value based on the integration process.

"Well, behemoths and dinosaurs die slowly. So the ability for a large company to disrupt oneself is quite difficult."

The quote reflects on the challenges that large corporations face in terms of innovation and self-disruption.

The Emergence and Focus on AI in Venture Capital

  • AI, machine learning, and deep learning technologies have existed for decades but have only recently become a focus for venture capital.
  • The change in market timing for AI adoption is attributed to pervasive connectivity and the resulting data generation.
  • Consumers and enterprises are now connected through multiple devices, creating vast amounts of data to train AI models.
  • The combination of pervasive connectivity, the mobility revolution, and reduced storage costs due to cloud computing has enabled the rise of applied AI.

"To be perfectly honest, what has transformed or what has changed the market timing for adoption is this emergence of what we at glasswing call pervasive connectivity and the inputs and outputs to it."

This quote explains the shift in market dynamics that has made AI a focusable theme in venture capital today.## Ownership of Device-Produced Data

  • The future of device-produced data ownership will likely be a hybrid of public and private ownership.
  • Consumer pushback against large entities using their data for corporate rather than consumer benefit is increasing.
  • Movements like "do not track" in edtech signify consumer demand for control over their data.
  • Recent regulations are giving consumers more power over their own data.
  • There is a generational difference in attitudes towards privacy, with younger generations being less concerned.
  • A balance between proprietary data and consumer control is expected to emerge.

"I think it will be a hybrid... But you'll also see this push from consumers to have more control."

This quote highlights the prediction that data ownership will not be solely public or private, but a mix of both with an emphasis on increasing consumer control.

"So I think we might see a world where consumers have to buy in and have to approve and get some sort of benefit, wherever the case may be."

Rudina Seseri suggests that consumers might have to actively consent to their data being used and possibly receive benefits in return, indicating a shift toward consumer empowerment in data usage.

Data as a Defensive Moat for Companies

  • No single factor, including data, determines the success of an investment.
  • People and execution are considered more crucial than technology or data alone.
  • Barriers to entry, such as proprietary AI technologies and data sets, can increase the chance of success.
  • Companies need to balance having proprietary data with building consumer trust and brand differentiation.

"There is no artificial intelligence that replaces human execution."

Rudina Seseri emphasizes the irreplaceable value of human execution in business, placing it above the importance of data and technology for investment success.

"Having the right data sets to train these models and to create even more... is important."

This quote acknowledges the importance of data in developing AI technologies and the competitive advantage it can provide to companies.

Data Incumbency Advantage

  • Large tech companies have a significant data incumbency advantage.
  • Startups can overcome these barriers through agility and access to alternative data sources.
  • New companies are emerging to support the AI movement by providing data sets for algorithm training.
  • The historical context of data marketplaces and ad exchanges shows that this is not a new challenge.

"I do think that there are big data incumbencies, and I do think that they require, if you will, they're a challenge to overcome."

Rudina Seseri recognizes the challenge startups face against established companies with vast data resources but suggests it's not insurmountable.

"The agility of a startup, and with execution and access to other sources of data."

This quote reflects the belief that startups can compete against incumbents by being agile and finding new data sources.

Disruption Cycles

  • We are entering the third disruption cycle.
  • The first cycle was the web, initiated by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee in 1989.
  • The second cycle was the social mobile wave, which is now considered complete.
  • The third cycle is driven by AI, with pervasive connectivity and technological advancements.
  • AI adoption cycles are expected to be shorter than previous cycles.

"We fundamentally believe that we're entering the third disruption cycle."

Rudina Seseri states the belief that a new era of technological disruption, centered around AI, is beginning.

"We expect that, as in prior waves, the adoption cycle for AI-powered products and platforms will be shorter."

This quote suggests that the uptake of AI technologies will be faster than that of previous technological waves, due to various factors including generational tech-savviness.

AI Wave and Adoption Speed

  • The AI wave's increased speed of adoption is due to various factors including storage and data advancements.
  • Millennials and younger generations are driving the rapid adoption of technology.
  • The concept of being an "AI native" is emerging, with future generations growing up with AI as a natural part of their lives.
  • Robotics and applied AI will play a significant role in the lives of the upcoming generation.

"I think it's the millennials and the younger generations that how tech savvy they are and how quickly that adoption is taking place."

Rudina Seseri credits the tech-savviness of younger generations for the swift adoption of AI technologies.

"I have a three year old and I think she's going to be an AI native with not just sort of the interactions... but also the whole world of social robotics."

This quote illustrates the belief that future generations will grow up with AI deeply integrated into their daily lives, shaping their relationship with technology.

Positive Transformations through AI

  • AI transforms traditional software development by using machine learning and deep learning.
  • AI enables the creation of software that continually improves and adapts.
  • The discussion focuses on the positive aspects of AI, despite concerns about "dark AI."

"You essentially are developing software that far out"

Rudina Seseri points out the transformative nature of AI in software development, where AI allows the creation of self-improving software systems.## AI-Powered Disruption in Enterprises

  • AI is revolutionizing every aspect of enterprises, including IT, sales, marketing, and cybersecurity.
  • Constant learning capabilities of AI peak at a certain point, leading to a business decision on further iterations based on ROI.
  • AI introduces new possibilities for consumer experiences through social robotics and augmented/virtual reality.

At some point, as you feed more and more and more data, it will reach a peak of learning, and then it becomes a business decision rather than fundamentally a tech constraint around.

This quote emphasizes the point at which AI's learning from data reaches a peak, shifting the focus from technological limitations to strategic business decisions about the value of further investment.

AI Business Models

  • AI business models are not as clearly defined as traditional models like licensed or SaaS.
  • AI products focus on performance and disruptive technology rather than innovating business models.
  • AI can still utilize traditional monetization models like SaaS while offering disruptive technologies.

I'm sure there are business model ramifications, but to say that you have an AI powered product, you're speaking to the performance, you're speaking to how you're building it, you're speaking to, if you will, jumping a curve. Jumping an S curve.

Rudina Seseri explains that AI products are more about the technology's disruptive capability than about creating new business models, although they don't prevent innovative monetization strategies.

Predictions on Artificial Superintelligence

  • The timeline for artificial superintelligence is uncertain, with estimates ranging from 20 to 30 years.
  • The advent of superintelligence will require careful consideration of ethics and standards.
  • The impact of AI, including potential job displacement, should be balanced by creating opportunities for human creativity and leveraging AI as a tool.

But I do think we're 2030 years away from that. And when we get there, I hope we will put the right parameters in place to make the right decisions, because there are a lot of ramifications, some of which are not all positive.

Rudina Seseri suggests that superintelligence is decades away and underscores the need for ethical and standard frameworks to manage its impact.

Impact of AI on Employment

  • Disruptive technologies like AI can lead to job displacement, similar to historical shifts in labor markets.
  • Societal focus should be on creating new opportunities that harness human creativity and use AI as a tool.

When there is disruption, there is always displacement of employment and labor, and that's a reality.

Rudina Seseri acknowledges the reality of job displacement due to disruptive technologies but advocates for a focus on new opportunities that leverage human skills and AI.

Adoption of Driverless Cars

  • Widespread adoption of self-driving cars is predicted within the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Driver's licenses may become a luxury rather than a necessity in the future.
  • The market for driverless cars is expected to be dominated by a few key players, with a 'winners take most' scenario.

I think in the next five to ten years we'll probably see quite a bit more penetration of self-driving cars.

Rudina Seseri predicts significant penetration of self-driving cars in the near future, indicating a shift in transportation norms.

AI Investment Strategy

  • Having a deep understanding of core AI technologies is crucial for investors.
  • AI investment strategies target broad market applications, including trillion-dollar markets.
  • AI enables both disruption of existing markets and the creation of entirely new categories.

It's a case of having deep knowledge and experience and expertise around the core AI technologies such that you are focused in that regard.

Rudina Seseri highlights the importance of expertise in AI technologies for investment strategies that aim to disrupt or create new market categories.

AI in Cybersecurity

  • AI can leverage big data to move from reactive to proactive cybersecurity measures.
  • The goal is to predict and prescribe actions to security vulnerabilities.
  • AI's potential to differentiate between correlation and causation is unprecedented in cybersecurity.

And then you have the whole space of cybersecurity and the ability to leverage these big data sets and models to not just be reactive in nature to security vulnerabilities and hacks, whether they're at the network data or identity level, but to actually be able to predict and perhaps one day prescript to taking to the even a higher level.

Rudina Seseri discusses the transformative impact of AI on cybersecurity, with the potential to predict and respond to threats more effectively than ever before.## Software Transformation

  • The fundamental difference in software is having systems that self-improve continuously.
  • This aspect is considered transformational in the field.

No, I think that's only a facet. I think the fundamental difference is about having a software that it's effectively to have systems that continuously self improve, that is transformational.

Rudina Seseri emphasizes the importance of self-improving systems in software, suggesting that it's a transformative feature that distinguishes modern software capabilities.

Favorite Book

  • Rudina's favorite book is "Paris, 1919," which details the history and outcomes of the Paris conference after World War I.
  • The book is valued for its historical insight into the shaping of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Let's start with your favorite book and why Paris, 1919? It's basically the history of what happened at the Paris conference after World War I, and it essentially shaped the rest of the 20th century and even some of the new world order in the 21st century. Hands down, my favorite book, biggest mentor.

Rudina Seseri explains her favorite book, "Paris, 1919," highlighting its significance in understanding the historical events that have influenced modern global order.

Mentors and Role Models

  • Mentors for Rudina have changed over time, often being adjacent to her industry rather than directly involved.
  • Her mother has been a steady figure, providing both mentorship and a role model, demonstrating leadership and instilling strong values.

So they have been guiding me without being too much into weeds, and I've always been grateful for that. But they've changed over time as my career has advanced and altered over time. So I would say the steady figure in my life has really been my mother.

Rudina Seseri reflects on how her mentors have evolved throughout her career and singles out her mother as a constant source of guidance and inspiration.

Favorite Blog or Newsletter

  • Tim Urban's "Wait But Why" is Rudina's favorite blog.
  • She appreciates the blog for its foundational explanations of AI.

Tim Urban's weight by y. I love it. Love it. Can't wait for it.

Rudina Seseri expresses her enthusiasm for Tim Urban's blog "Wait But Why," particularly for its educational content on artificial intelligence.

Challenges in Setting Up a Startup

  • Rudina, along with her partners at Glasswing, has extensive operational experience.
  • The challenge of setting up a startup includes being both the janitor and CEO, requiring immense commitment and time.

But I have a whole new level of appreciation for what it takes to set up a startup, to be the janitor and the CEO and everything in between.

Rudina Seseri conveys her newfound respect for the multifaceted responsibilities and the intense commitment required to establish a startup.

The Vision for Glasswing

  • The vision for Glasswing is to become a market-leading firm.
  • The name Glasswing, representing a species of transparent butterfly, symbolizes transparency with founders, teams, and limited partners (LPs).
  • The goal for the next five years is to achieve transparency, transformation, and become a top-tier firm.

So the vision ahead is to transform glasswing into a market leading firm. [...] if we have achieved those goals of being transparent, of being transformative, and in the companies that we invest in and the help that we provide, as well as becoming a top tier firm, I think we will be in a good spot.

Rudina Seseri outlines the long-term goals for Glasswing, which include achieving transparency and transformation in their investments and positioning the firm as a leader in the market.

Personal and Professional Development Tools

  • Harry Stebbings endorses Headspace for meditation and mindfulness, which can help with stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
  • Luma is recommended for creating a fast, secure, and controlled home Wi-Fi network, with an easy setup and management app.

And meditation can really help. And headspace is meditation made simple. [...] Luma is the world's first ever surround wifi system that brings speed, security and control to your home network.

Harry Stebbings shares his personal recommendations for Headspace and Luma, highlighting their benefits for mental well-being and home Wi-Fi management, respectively.

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