Member spotlight on Ernestine Fu

A Mensa member since 2007, Ernestine Fu is the youngest venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, a public service advocate and an engineering graduate student at Stanford University.

Magic time…I think it’s a bit challenging to say where I saw myself going as a kid. At one point I think I wanted to be a magician, but that was just for a month or so.

Fighting the good fight: I started a non-profit in high school that was actually inspired by my sister who was in the same magnet program I went to, except she was diagnosed with depression…. I wanted to somehow find a solution…. We started playing the flute together, but we competed individually on solos and in flute competitions. I saw the simple realization of the healing power of music, so the nonprofit I started in school [began] as a small club at my high school focused on actually using music and art to rivet people who are at hospitals and mental health care centers. Then it expanded to individuals at homeless shelters or villages and beyond that.

The money woman: At the time, [Alsop Louie Partners] was looking to tap into the Stanford ecosystem because of the close relationship between Stanford and Silicon Valley companies like Yahoo!, Instagram, Hewlett Packard and Google. Silicon Valley’s high-growth technology and ecosystem comes out of Stanford research labs…. I met one of the partners at an event, and now I’m actually a Kauffman Fellow, which is a two-year fellowship program. They select 30 venture capitalists every year to join the program and learn a more collaborative experience.

But not for long…I don’t really see myself being a venture capitalist after I graduate. I think the whole experience has helped me gain a better understanding of how, for example, technology can be used in public service and civic work. I don’t think I see myself working in the private sector full-time.

Tech can save education: I think the whole sector of education and technology is very fascinating. You can see technology that is more focused on adaptive learning. I think I was very fortunate to be able to go through a public education system, specifically a program that was tailored toward individual, one-on-one learning. I think nowadays if you think about education technology and being able to adapt to children’s needs and not just focus on one standard curriculum for all students. Students can look at videos online; they can ask questions; teachers can monitor individual students’ progress and actually tailor and adapt the learning. I think it’s fascinating how technology can change all of that.

Time to relax: I enjoy being busy, but I do take time off, as well. For example, I’ve been playing bridge since my early days in high school. I think it’s important to always relax and take a deep breath. Bridge is an interesting experience because you’re able to team up with someone and read the partner’s experiences in order to win the game.

My money is on us: I don’t have a specific company or foundation in mind that I’d like to work for. I think an organization that leverages the private sector to further social causes would be very interesting. I’ve been looking into the role of institutional investors, who look at long-term capital gains as a portfolio as opposed to short-term investments, and I can see that being very fascinating.


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