Partner · San Francisco
From an aspiring academic to a researcher VC
Jenny never thought she would become a VC. In fact, growing up, her dream job was to become a professor -- she loved the intellectual challenge of doing research.
In college, after reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence and Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers, she became concerned about AI safety and the potential of an AI arms race. She began closely following the work and progress of major AI labs, including OpenAI, DeepMind, and Google, as well as national moves to promote or regulate AI.
This interest eventually led her to do an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in AI, economics, and politics at Columbia University. During her Ph.D., she got an opportunity to conduct some of her dissertation research at OpenAI and moved from New York to San Francisco.
In Jenny’s Ph.D. dissertation, she benchmarked the performance of hundreds of AI models to understand the AI capabilities of different countries. She also researched how game theory models of international cooperation could be applied to AI agents.
Jenny was on track to finish her Ph.D. in three years at age 24. But at the same time, she became worried that research alone cannot create transformative impact in the world of AI. She left her pure research role and decided not to become a tenure-track professor.
Instead, Silicon Valley convinced her that startups hold the most potential for real-world impact. She was introduced to the Leonis founder Jay Zhao and found an opportunity to apply her multidisciplinary research skillset in the VC world.
At Leonis, Jenny quickly realized that there are massive information gaps between the worlds of VCs and researchers -- VCs are often years behind on the most cutting-edge research. However, as technologies progress faster, understanding research trends will become ever more crucial for VCs and founders.
It is this realization that inspired Jenny to become a researcher VC and double-down on building a research-driven venture fund.
How Jenny can help
Jenny lives and breathes research. She has helped many portfolio companies explore new directions through in-depth research in both the technical and market side.
Reading academic papers helps Jenny stay on top of the latest trends in AI/ML. Ask her for advice and she’s recommend some new techniques for you to implement.
Product & design
Though a researcher by training, Jenny is secretly passionate about product and UI/UX. She loves designing products (including this website!) and giving product feedback.