Matt Ocko, co-founder of endeavor firm Data Collective(DCVC), was among a little group of VCs considered as alarmists when they started tweeting about the coronavirus’s imminent appearance in the U.S. back in January. In retrospection, those people were prescient, so we spoke to Ocko last week about why he was so particular the U.S. was about to get walloped by COVID-19, and asked how some of the start-ups in DCVC’s portfolio– which has long had a strong biotech focus– are trying to get us back to a state of normalcy. This discussion has been edited for length. TechCrunch: You were tweeting about COVID-19 back in January; I nearly canceled a flight
out of San Francisco because of your [expressed issue about a flight bound for SFO from Wuhan, China] What did you see that the rest of us missed out on? Matt Ocko: My family has actually been dealing with the Chinese federal government at a fairly high level since the late 1970s, beginning with my daddy, and I type of grew up because environment. And at a relatively young age, as an expert [in the 1990s], I began pro bono assisting my father, who’s a Chinese legal expert, on things like constructing the laws around China’s Nasdaq equivalent, its stock exchange, the joint dollar-renminbi investment legislation, guidance on technology advancement and equity capital advancement.
I’m not an anti-China hawk by any methods. I do have an understanding of some of the traits of Chinese culture reflected in its federal government, the very same way every nation has its peculiarities.
[In China’s case], it’s a focus on face and reputation and extreme sensitivity to negative understanding or embarassment or embarrassment at every level of government and culture. And so there’s [an] regrettable trend– and not a universal one– for people to manage upwards, specifically in the government, and inform their higher-ups what they wish to hear to prevent embarassment, to avoid the loss of track record and to kick the can down the roadway or hope that situations on the ground change favorably in the face of denial or equivocation.
Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.