Grok! (BJR’s new gig)

The Journey

In June, I was approaching the anniversary of my re-entry into Australia after my worldwide sabbatical and decided to take stock of what I’d done in the last year and what I wanted to do next. I’d written An Update on Chapter 2 to help catalog what I’d been up to over the last year.

Grok

Long story short, Grok was the perfect fit — in Sydney, 75%+ focused on climate investments in energy and food, and a team I could learn from (and who are just plain fun).

The logo. ‘Nuff said.

“Back in the fold”

Grok is the venture arm of the family office of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes. Mike, or MCB, for those of you who don’t know him, is one of the co-founders and co-CEOs of Atlassian, along with Scott Farquhar. I worked directly for MCB for 50% of my time, and indirectly for him the other 50% of my time at Atlassian, and he’s an ideal manager for me — directly challenging me on the most important things, but leaving me to obsess over the details.

Not your usual VC

Grok is not a conventional investor in a number of ways. The website is basic (the portfolio can be found on a set of twitter lists). They don’t really market themselves. They are extremely focused on their mission — finding and investing in the best climate focused startups where they can have a unique impact in the company’s success. There isn’t a single formula or single pattern to the investments —there are early stage startups in Australia and the US, as well as game-changing, lighthouse projects like SunCable (powering Singapore and Indonesia from solar in Australia’s Northern Territory). This is one of the great benefits of not raising a fund or having to constrain yourself to any promises made to limited partners (who invest in the fund). To thine own self, be true, so to speak.

The Team

My main goal was to be a part of a team, and even after just one week I’m fired up to be working with Jeremy, Lucie, Arms, and Sam. I’m going to learn a ton about investing (even in the first week, my investor glossary of jargon expanded by leaps and bounds), but even more about energy markets, sustainable food, and other areas in climate that will help increase my impact.

So what in the world is an “Operator-in-Residence”?

The name is a derivative of “Entrepreneur-in-Residence,” which usually is someone who joins a venture fund with the intent to either start a new company from inside the VC, or to join an existing investment. Here, my role is not looking for any kind of exit into the portfolio, but instead is focused on serving the existing portfolio companies to provide hands-on help with whatever operational challenges they face.

  • Practical strategy (company and product strategy, product roadmapping)
  • Operational goals and health (metrics, OKRs)
  • Organisational health (org planning, hiring, growing a leadership team)

Stay tuned

I’m currently writing this blog from a small house on the Potomac river in Virginia, after traveling to the US over the last 48 hours.

Where I’ll spend the next two weeks in the US…

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