The Big Middle

Jim Mellon

Episode Summary

A billionaire entrepreneur-investor-philanthropist on The Post-COVID Future of Everything

Episode Notes

This is the first episode under the banner The Post-COVID Future of Everything, which will be a recurring theme. 

My first distinguished guest is variously described as a visionary entrepreneur, billionaire master investor, bad boy of Brexit and emerging markets, skilled spotter of global trends, accomplished author and generous philanthropist.  

Jim Mellon is founder of the Burnbrae private investment group, which has interests in a number of industries. His most recent ventures include co-founding Juvenescence, a company investing in the development of therapies for ageing and the diseases of ageing, and Agronomics, which invests in the nascent industry of environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free foods. He's also co-founder of The Longevity Forum, a non-profit bridging the gap between longevity science and society.

We talk philanthropy, longevity, biotech, the shocking turn of events in the US, whether we’ll hit reset on the crises in inequality, capitalism and climate in any meaningful way, why China will have to reinvent itself, best future career and investment bets, why government intervention is needed to overhaul Big Food - we agree sugar is poison and should be taxed like cigarettes - and how his values and investment moves are inseparable: “I want to make a positive impact in some of the areas I'm interested in."

Quotes

On how COVID crisis underscores urgency of research into prevention of  age-related killer diseases: 

“The sick and elderly are extremely vulnerable to something that comes sideways to get them. If we could boost their immune systems, which are very compromised by the fact hey’ve got all these diseases and that they’re old and their immune systems have been compromised by age, we put them in a much stronger position to resist the ravages of pandemics.”

On President Trump’s chances of winning a second term?

“Who knows? Donald Trump pulled a rabbit out of a hat last time. He probably knows his audience better than Joe Biden knows his audience and he’s absolutely ruthless in the pursuit of power. But...as you rightly pointed out, the US is on fire at the moment and this is something in my lifetime I have never seen - this is incredible. The world’s most advanced society...has the greatest level of inequality in the history of the world, which is evidenced by all these riots. It also has a very patchwork response to the pandemic - not a good response - and it’s got erratic leadership. It’s a very difficult situation.”

On best future career and investment opportunities:

Don’t follow the obvious trends. Don’t go develop an app. Don’t become a doctor or lawyer because those professions will be replaced by technology in the relatively near future. Look at the meta-thematic trends we have at the moment: number one is environmental change, and they’re all linked together, number two is food….and number three is the science of longevity in biotech, in healthcare, in the provision of empathetic services to older people. Those will be the three key areas of great career and entrepreneurial development over the next 10 or 20 years. And that’s what I would recommend anyone who’s starting now to do. Don’t go with the old status quo, go with the new.”

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