President & Chief Investment Officer
Founder-led is very close to a must have for us. It’s very important—it allows for more efficiency in decision making. There’s passion, longevity for a game plan. When you’re a controlling founder-led company, you can do things that have short-term negative ramifications for long-term gains and your board won’t fire you. We really like it.
I started my own company because I wanted an opportunity to create wealth for people. The early days were fun, but it was tough competitively. By starting my own company, I could invest in the way I felt was best—long-term. That came from investing in the IPO of an innovative local technology company. I believed that company was going to change how we worked and how we did business.
When a company goes public the rest of the world has to get caught up. Because we look at early stage companies, in the private realm, we get an understanding of what they may become, post their IPOs. We’re able to gain comfort and deal with bumps in the road for long-term capital appreciation.
I would say in the last decade we find companies, and we intend on owning them long term, but we spend a lot more time educating and reassuring and dealing with misinformation or disinformation from short sellers. In the first 15 years, we didn’t really have that.
The way we find companies is, what do we use, do, and work with every day? What do children use, do, and work with every day? How do businesses invest in order to be competitive?
We have the ability to screen ideas—we go to research conferences and listen to companies. Our biggest work is finding the ones that might come public. That’s where we feel we have a big advantage.
Women tend to be better listeners. Women are also the major consumers in households. But youth is a bigger driver of our future success, I think.
“Founder-led is very close to a must have for us. There’s passion, and longevity for a game plan.“
The belief here is that you give back to your community. That makes for a richer, more vibrant community, that guess what, people want to live in, businesses want to invest in, and people want to work in. You invest in your community in every way possible, youth, children, education, sciences, women. Our support of women is a big thing here.
The art in this is the people. How could you run a model of say, I’m thinking here of a very well-known founder, how could you run a model of that person’s value in terms of the company’s success or failure? So the art part to me is the people, first and foremost. This is not calculable. That, and understanding how young people are doing things today. People in their 20s or their teens who’ll come into the educational system and then come into the business world.
I want to give people opportunities and jobs and let them run. ‘Here’s a business challenge, you want to run with it? Go.’ We like to hire people with a great background but without any experience at all so we can inundate them with how we invest. The educational system is so focused on arrears, cash flow, positive earnings. The educational system refuses to look at things differently. They don’t have the capacity—the books haven’t been written.
I was pretty much raised by a single mother. My mother did not go to college but made sure all three of her daughters did. I remember when she said to me, ‘the world is not fair’ and I thought, ‘the world’s not fair?!’ This was Sumner, Washington. I worked in the raspberry fields, moved up to the cannery, canning raspberries, strawberries, jam.
We believe wealth creation happens through concentrated positions. Bill Gates, how did he make his wealth? With a diversified portfolio? No. Bezos? No. Wealth is created through concentrated positions and we emulate that in our portfolio. You have to know how to take advantage of volatility.
“We have the ability to screen ideas—we go to research conferences and listen to companies. Our biggest work is finding the ones that might come public. That’s where we feel we have a big advantage.”
BA, Business Administration with a concentration in Finance
University of Washington
Member, CFA Institute
Member, CFA Society of Seattle
Independent Trustee, Smead Funds Trust
Advisory Board, University of Washington Foster School of Business
Technology, Energy, Materials/Processing and Producer Durables