- Reed Jobs, the son of Steve Jobs, is launching a $200 million, oncology-focused venture firm called Yosemite, the new company announced Tuesday.
- Unlike traditional VCs, Yosemite’s model includes investing in for-profit, early-stage companies and giving philanthropic grants to academic researchers through a donor-advised fund.
- The money for Yosemite's inaugural fund comes from a mix of endowments, healthcare institutions and family offices, including The Rockefeller University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and John Doerr, a Kleiner Perkins investor.
The San Francisco firm is a spinout from Emerson Collective, founded by Jobs’ mother Laurene Powell Jobs. Emerson makes both venture investments and philanthropic contributions to fields such as immigration, environment and education.
Jobs, who lost his father to pancreatic cancer more than a decade ago, has been an investor at Emerson since 2015. The health investment team at Emerson left to launch Yosemite, and includes people with experience at Bain Capital, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Amgen, according to LinkedIn.
“We believe this first close demonstrates investor confidence in Yosemite’s strategy of building new companies, trust in our extensive grantee and institutional network and value in our combined experience in shepherding new transformational cancer treatments,” Jobs said in a statement.
At Emerson, the group funded startups such as epigenetic gene editing company Tune Therapeutics and gene and cell therapy specialist ElevateBio. Yosemite's investors have previously supported "hundreds" of researchers and invested in "dozens" of drugmakers and diagnostic companies, according to the company.
Emerson’s investment model drew the interest of big drugmakers such as Takeda, which in 2022 announced a cancer-focused startup incubator with the collective.
Yosemite’s hope is that scientists whose academic work gets funded by the venture firm may very well come back to it for startup capital if they later decide to launch a company.
“Yosemite intends to invest in scientific breakthroughs and entrepreneurs who have the potential to dramatically change how cancer patients are diagnosed and treated,” said Dan McHugh, an investor with the fund.
Named after the national park where Jobs’ parents met, Yosemite joins a class of new venture funds that have launched this year, including Dimension and Cure Ventures. Several established venture firms, including Medicxi, Westlake Village BioPartners and SR One, have also announced new funds in 2023.
“Truly foundational technological shifts have happened in the past few years, from the first approved gene therapies and engineered cells as therapies, to liquid biopsies and machine learning dramatically changing what is possible for diagnosing patients,” McHugh said. “The coming decades will see the dissemination of many of these early advances.”