Zetta Managing Partner Ash Fontana

Transcript

For the past decade, Ash Fontana has been making waves across the tech and investing world. With stints at AngelList, Zetta Ventures, and now his solo venture advising AI-first companies, Fontana has garnered a reputation as a leader, innovator, and world-renowned investor.

As an early employee of AngelList, Fontana was on the ground floor as the platform grew to juggernaut status. He and a team of engineers worked tirelessly to make it easier for startups to access investors and fundraising. Through automation, they reduced the cost of angel investments from over fifty thousand dollars to less than ten thousand dollars.

Fontana wasn’t alone at AngelList — Naval Ravikant, the entrepreneur and early investor, was always around. Fontana credits Ravikant with passing on the “heuristics” necessary for successful seed investing, which continue to shape Fontana’s investment strategy. Fontana also attributes Naval’s wisdom and philosophy for inspiring him to take risks and understand the nature of business.

Fontana, who’s always been fascinated by big data, already envisioned the possibilities of artificial intelligence during the early days of AngelList. A lot of this was informed by his experience in the music industry — roots he and Ravikant shared — and drew links between the structure of music and the structure of data.

AI can now generate natural-sounding conversational text for marketing, sales, customer service, and more. The current models are designed to be extremely versatile, learning and understanding various languages, dialects, and even the nuances of specific topics. With its efficient and cost-effective use of artificial intelligence, AI takes machine-generated text from being an exception to an everyday tool.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, however, come new worries and fears. One of these is the idea of propaganda being generated for nefarious purposes. Fontana is deeply aware of this and suggests “being conscious of the source of your data is so important when working with AI technologies. The source of your data is the source of your decisions, so making sure the data comes from a legitimate source is key.”

When it comes to companies utilizing AI, there needs to be a defensible element; this can be anything from a patent, a unique data set, or proprietary infrastructure. But, more than anything, it needs to be something that can capture value in a way that no other technology can.

The future of work, according to Fontana, is more self-defined. This means that, finally, people can choose the type of work they do. AI has enabled more capacity to self-define from managing books and producing content for social media to creating budgeting plans. AI and machine learning have allowed people to focus on the work they want to do, freeing them of mundane tasks.

Ash Fontana has gained respect in both the world of tech and investing over the last decade. He’s proven himself to be an innovator, having made huge strides in the AI field as a successful investor and a mentor. Fontana’s wisdom has become an invaluable asset, providing knowledge to future generations of ambitious entrepreneurs.

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