Who we are.
In 2023, Playground Global raised an additional $410 million. These new funds — and new limited partners — will enable us to deploy capital toward our favorite kind of founders — the ones who are weaving new worlds with technologies they take from theoretical to irrepressible. Some of these makers are soldering and coding robots. Others are crafting planes that fly on hydrogen. Others still are 3D-printing rockets, constructing the first useful quantum computers, and revealing the medicinal secrets of human RNA.
A Playground founder is easy to identify. Yet many people — even some of our own investors — struggle to put a finger on who exactly we are. We’re not an accelerator or an incubator. We write checks, but we also build brands, recruit top talent, and help lay the foundation for burgeoning technology to become commercially viable. We invest in disparate fields, seemingly united by little else other than their breakthrough nature.
So, who and what is Playground Global? Well, we are a lot of things…
We are de-riskers.
The companies we love usually are the ones who manage to surprise even seasoned investors like ourselves. They are the ones who aren’t afraid of daunting technical challenges and can imagine out-of-this-world solutions. These ventures are often founded by scientists, not operators. But alongside them, we actively disentangle real risk from genuine opportunity based on our century of collective experience building successful deep technology products and companies.
Think of it this way: When most folks look at El Capitan, they see something entirely too daunting to scale. The idea of climbing it likely never crosses their mind. However, a select few look at that wall and see a series of challenging but executable holds, steps, and maneuvers.
We don’t see risk traditionally. Hydrogen-powered airplanes, 3D-printed rockets, and quantum computers aren’t risks; each milestone is simply a matter of execution. The harder the thing, the more value it potentially has. “Hard” is a synonym for solving a real problem with incredible value on the other side of it.
So, we help support world-changing ventures from 0 to 1. We divine their promise, we understand their value, and we ensure their impact. Because we’re not afraid of technology. It’s just atoms & bits.
We speak fluent science.
We move science down the technological value chain—transforming it into scalable engineering. Our team has built scores of high-performance teams, taped chips, and launched countless products. And we help our companies tell their stories because a story that matters is a story that changes the world.
At Playground, we understand the science well enough to picture the world as it could be and will be. We then de-technicalize stories and make them accessible and, ultimately, fundable. On the other side of the risk-opportunity nexus where we invest is a technological moat. When our companies pop, they own their market—sometimes for decades—as others race to see what we already saw.
Why stake out this turf? Because we believe that technology is a change agent. It’s the lever that has—and will again—change the world. Science is what will get us where we need to go, from designing drugs for once-incurable diseases to unlocking green energy. It will help us make a profit sustainably.
We are the scientific method in action.
We see the golden threads webbing technology together.
While all firms see technologies in “verticals” or “pillars,” we see technologies with interconnected roots, mutually supporting a forest’s worth of trees. This is to say, what may seem at first blush to be wholly separate are, in actuality, symbiotic ideas.
Pull on one technological thread, and a dozen others will twitch. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, for instance, started as a way of playing checkers. Now, companies are using these tools to engineer pharmaceuticals like software. But even now, our computational abilities are limited in the face of enormous problems like understanding markets or minuscule ones like mapping a molecule. Quantum computing, though, promises to change all of that by tapping into the quantum nature of the universe to truly understand complex systems where traditional computers would falter. Soon, a straight line can be drawn from data centers to pharmaceutical labs to agriculture to semiconductor fabs. Technology isn’t hermetically sealed but self-referential.
This unlocks a novel investing thesis. When we backed Ultima Genomics in 2017, we knew that the cost of genomic sequencing would soon decrease exponentially. Coupled with our decades-old conviction that AI would be the next great tech platform gave us the hypothesis that the future would shift to drug design, not simply discovery. Seeing these connections allows us to imagine a new future and invest into it with confidence.
Before wide-scale adoption, technology often teeters on the brink of scale. These moments of fulcrum-like potential can last for months and sometimes years before an idea finally spills out into the market. Artificial Intelligence existed for half of a century before the debut of a certain chatbot when terms like LLM, NLP, and inference entered our collective lexicon.
At Playground, we invest directly into those tipping points with the knowledge that exponential return lies just on the other side. And as we continue to scour the investment landscape for opportunity, the rumblings of new seismic shifts in technology are audible. It is clear to us that several generational technologies are stirring moments before reaching takeoff.
Much as Artificial Intelligence blossomed in the first quarter of the year, we are moving into a realization phase in several sectors. 3D-printed rockets are reaching space. Robots are no longer simply working arms but bipedal warehouse workers. AI is exploring our genetics and moving closer to drug design. And Playground has an outsized grasp on each of these moments of critical mass.
We are currently first in line to invest and lead the quantum-enabled, decarbonized world. Much as we were for the AI revolution. When each new tipping point hits, we will be ready to ride it.
We are the venture fund we wish existed when we were founders.