A Venture Capitalist Uses Philanthropy to Reimagine Education
Nicole Wallace | February 09, 2018
As a venture capitalist, Ted Dintersmith made bets on fledgling tech companies. The work did more than make him wealthy; it also spurred his passion for reimagining education and has shaped his hands-on approach to philanthropy. Early in his venture-capital career, he gravitated toward company founders with sterling academic credentials, but that’s not where he found his greatest successes. In Mr. Dintersmith’s estimation, the top students clung to formulas and feared risk. Real innovators, he found, excelled in the academic subjects they liked and blew off the rest.
It was a startling revelation for someone with a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford. When he was general partner of Charles River Ventures, Mr. Dintersmith, now 65, watched the rapid increase in computing power and computers’ growing ability to learn and improve their performance on their own. Many start-up executives ideas’ involved eliminating the need for human workers. He began to think that any job that a computer could learn would disappear. Pair those misgivings with his concern about his children’s future, and an education advocate was born.