About JIM DEMETRIADES
Bio: Jim Demetriades is the Founder and CEO of venture capital investment company, Kairos Ventures, real estate development and management company, Multiversal, and his own unique children’s internet education media company, that he created called Inspero.net. He serves on boards of numerous technology companies in a variety of industries. He is also a founding member and past Chair of the ADT and Finance chapters of the healthcare HL7 ANSI standards group. HL7 is the global standard for healthcare information exchange. At age 26, Jim started his own software company, SeeBeyond, that invented and patented numerous technologies in the software industry, including composite, client server based integration technology, distributed integration technologies, and cloud based integration and development products. He took his company, SeeBeyond, public and served as the CEO and Chairman of a 1,600 person public company. With offices in 35 countries, Jim then sold the company to Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle) in 2005 for 386 million dollars in cash.
Alan Olsen: My guest today is Jim Demetriades. Jim, welcome to today’s show.
Jim Demetriades: Delighted to be here. Thanks for having me.
Alan Olsen: So Jim you have quite a, you know, extensive background with some great successes and transitions along the way from the career and I liked for the listeners for you to give a short timeline of your life and how you got to where you are today.
Jim Demetriades: Well, I’m a son of an immigrant, my father came over from Greece after world war two got a full ride at Bowden and MIT and Caltech was a rocket scientists got me into computers, starting at nine years old at Caltech, where he went and in 1971, and, I was very blessed to have a father who really said that computers were the future. His best friend was a physicist by the name of Richard Fineman, Nobel Prize winner in physics. And I’ll never forget that day, they called me into the living room. And Dr. Fineman says, What do you want to do when you grow up? Jim? I said I don’t know, Dr. Fineman, he said you should go into physics because if you go into physics, you’ll understand how the world works. My dad said no, you should go into computers. Because if you go into computers, you’ll control how the world works. And I was very fortunate in my 20s to start a software company that became the largest organically grown integration software company in the world.
Alan Olsen: Well, that’s quite a feat in that background also helped you along the way to transition into other fields.
Jim Demetriades: Yeah, the the software was a my life from the late 80s until 2005, when I sold my software company to Sun Microsystems and Scott McNealy. And we had just had our third child, I didn’t want to travel as extensively as I had been, we were in 35 countries. So I was pretty much on the road 100%. And I looked at my wife, and I said, You know, I want to stay home and be with the kids. So I decided to do it all good Greeks do it seems like which is to open up some hotels and restaurants. So we had some properties in Lake Tahoe, mammoth and ski resorts. And we started them ranked number 20 in the country, the landing and Lake Tahoe, ahead of meta wood and Napa Valley, I remember when we opened it and sold that though a few years ago, because I started a venture capital firm, a few years after we started to the hotel business, really around science, you know, it was a big problem, I noticed in 08, 09 when the federal deficits were running such large numbers, think how big they are today, that funding of scientific research, I figured would be under significant pressure. And I think, you know, the hedge of money that we have here in the United States, the leadership position that we’ve enjoyed for the last 70 years is really a function of the fact that we have incredible people, an incredible constitution and incredible universities that educate and explore science and lead in scientific discovery. And I knew that China was a rising threat. And so the only thing you can do when you’re faced with a country where the leadership, the political leadership steals, is you have to create a method to accelerate change. So the way to stay ahead of your competition, right is always to advance faster than they do. And so that’s what Silicon Valley is built on. Right? You become the gorilla, and you have the revenue stream and the customer base, and nobody can catch up to you. And that’s the story of so many companies in Silicon Valley. And, and I think we need to maintain that sort of capability. And so we created a venture capital firm, it’s a little not a little, I think people say very unusual, where we gift millions of dollars a year to scientists and their research, and we start companies based off of that research.
Alan Olsen: So in terms of scale, how big is kaiross ventures?
Jim Demetriades: So we have about 60 investments now that we’ve done over the last five years. We’ll probably do with our next fund, another 40 or so. And so we’re really, in terms of market penetration, we have 16 of the top universities that we have focused on. We built those relationships over six years. We fly to those universities weekly. And it’s a lot A lot of work but but what it does is it gives us I don’t mean weekly news fly to them quarterly, but different universities every week. And what’s happened is we have some unbelievable investments and it helped create with these brilliant scientists some unbelievable inventions that are really exciting because it lets me realize how blessed we are as a people to live in this country, and to have the brilliant science and university systems that we have and an infrastructure that supports it, and gives us the freedom to build amazing technologies. And so it’s just something that I think will eventually go to about a company a week to show you the scale of where we are, we’re doing about a company a month, I think that’s when we’re finished with our process, we’ll be investing in a new company every seven days.
Alan Olsen: It’s amazing, the rate of change and how technology is moving forward in the midst of this COVID pandemic when you with kairos ventures. So, who are your partners on this or these other? You know, venture capitalists are the other scientists are they corporate you know, ventures but you know,
Jim Demetriades: it’s been just us at the beginning, right? It was an idea that I had and, and Kairos ventures. And Kairos is an ancient Greek word. And it means a perfect moment in time and moment of synchronicity. And when things come together, and something good happens. And it was a theory. And what we actually do is we gift millions of dollars a year to scientists around the country to fund research. And then if that research works, we then commercialize that research, we have first dibs if you will to make those ideas into companies. And it takes a long time to build these relationships to get the trust of the faculty members, you have to visit them and you have to understand their work. So 50% of our employees are PhDs. And what’s I think happened is, you know, the inventions that we see are revolutionary, we have the world’s first mass production of insect pheromones. These are the smells that insects release to control insect populations naturally and organically, so you don’t have to use insecticide, and it increases yields by 10 or 15%. At farms, or more depending on the crop type. The world’s first mass production of a polymer heart valve, a plastic heart valve this today we kill a million cows every year, cut out their hearts, cows and pigs cut out their hearts and stitch them into heart valves that are put into humans. We don’t need to do that we’ve invented the world’s first plastic heart valve. It’s in humans. Now the FDA has approved it it has been in humans for over two years, we’re expanding the studies. In a few years, you won’t have animal tissue, heart valves, they will all be plastic, they last forever, they cost 99% less than make. They have no thrombogenicity. So you don’t need to take blood thinners, there’s no calcification, so there’s no chance of stroke, it’s amazing technology, we have the world’s first wireless energy company, it’s a weakened beam, 25 watts of power 30 feet away 25 watts. The first customer is Motorola, and Lenovo A lot of other companies. But we’re looking for venture capital firms that are interested in participating. And it would be fantastic to create some partnerships. And if there’s any of your listeners out there that are interested, please get in touch with me because you know, these companies now we’ve been doing this for six years, we have some very advanced technologies that are now in the scale of mode. And it would be wonderful to get some additive partnerships with other firms.
Alan Olsen: I’m sure that in this area that you’re focused in on with the scientists and betting out, you know, new innovations. it’s always attraction to the VCs to come in and evaluate this. So I’m sure that will happen. Jim
Jim Demetriades: but we’re here in LA. So LA is not you know, doesn’t have that plethora of entrepreneurs. I think yet it’s growing, of course, and so much well, much better than it was I think even five years ago, but Silicon Valley still has a wonderful group of talented individuals that really can help turbocharge this type of Technology,
Alan Olsen: let’s move into COVID, that the pandemic this last year and how that’s impacted what’s transpiring in the work that you’re doing?
Jim Demetriades: Well, we are a little unusual in that we exclusively work with partner universities. So we were significantly impacted. You know, what we do is we actually visit the universities, we visit the faculty members, we fund their research, we hear their presentations. And as you all know, most universities were closed, just like our schools. And, for better or for worse, you know, a lot of research slowed down until I’d say that about six months ago, when vaccinations started to pick up. Now the Delta variant is still throwing us for a bit of a curve. But you know, I think this is a bit of the, the seesaw, if you will, of, we’ve got it under control of variants going to appear, we’ll get a new vaccination, etc, etc. So, so while things are better, you know, we’ve, things have slowed down. And mainly because research at universities slowed down because they were closed, and that’s what we support. But now things are opening up and many of the universities are going back to school. Many of them have already opened a lot more are opening in September. Some I’m sure will have some challenges with the Vax with COVID. Spreading still, but at least I think many people have gotten vaccinated and have a strategy to protect themselves from death. So onward and upward.
Alan Olsen: Yeah, that’s we live in an interesting world five years ago, who would have known if we if if we move into the world that when you’re not doing this innovation of work? Are there any projects and hobbies that you’re passionate about?
Jim Demetriades: A lot, you know, I’ve I’ve gotten quite a bit more involved with politics, specifically, because my concerns around our country are the respect that I think our constitution deserves, and the rule of law deserves. So we really focus on helping make sure that our political leadership is well informed and making decisions that are productive to our country. And of course, one of those is our competitiveness, making sure that the United States and the support for our science and scientists is active. As Arnold, the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, she is now co chair of President Biden’s Scientific Advisory Council, which is a cabinet level position. And well, we’re very excited that you know, the the executive branch has taken science seriously and understands that it’s an important part of our our country’s future. In addition, you know, we have five children, we’ve homeschooled all five, and our first two are 18 and are off to college in a year. And they just turned 18. And we’re excited for them. It’s been quite a quite an experience. But, you know, we had a whole school set up with our own teachers, and many venture capitalists and firms from a variety of areas have asked us how we did that, because we have a very unusual program. So education is a big part of our family life. You know, the ancient Greeks, the way they did education is you didn’t have classes by age, they mixed the ages of students and had a class with older children, and younger. Now the purpose of that was multi fold, they brought young and older people together. So the younger children accelerated much faster than they would if they were in a class with their peers. And so we’ve experimented with this strategy on our own. And I’m excited to share with your listeners that it’s been a remarkable success. We have all of our kids are in advanced universities, including our 15 year old at our top universities taking things like engineering, calculus, and even our 11 year old is taking university courses. And our 18 year olds have won things like science fairs and projects. So it’s been a wonderful experience. And, it illustrates to me some of the challenges we as a country have ahead of us, which is how do we revamp education COVID is never going away, and shutting things down has hurt millions of young people, we can do better. And I think that we can do better by using technologies like we have in business, to educate our youth. And we don’t have to do it on a school by school basis, I think we can change the program, we can have the best educators in the, most interesting and complex subjects in the world, share their approaches and thoughts and thinking with young people today. Wouldn’t it be great if all people in inner cities or privileged people who have been going to the best private schools could access the same brilliant faculty members? I hope that you know, we can together put together programs to make that possible. So that’s a big part of our our dream is helping politics and education work together to make a big change in the way we live our daily lives.
Alan Olsen: Well, it sounds exciting, all the programs that you have going on with Kairos adventures and what’s next for Kairos, so you getting ready to launch another fund or?
Jim Demetriades: You know, it’s a we are we’re doing our third fund now. So let me just explain that what we see because it’s, it’s uplifting to me, and I hope it will be uplifting to you, Alan, and your listeners. We have found, for example, a metal, it’s a new metal that was developed at jet propulsion labs, which is NASA’s research arm which Caltech operates, which is a low temperature titanium alloy. What they do is it’s an amorphous metal. What that means it’s not crystaline, like a regular piece of steel is where you know, the atomic structure is very organized. And amorphous metal has a structure that’s more irregular, at a molecular level. And what it does is it has several interesting properties, it has a low melting point. So it melts at only 600 degrees. So it can be a little higher, it can be a little lower, depending on the alloys that you use. It has a mirror like surface, so it’s extremely smooth and pliable. So it doesn’t need lubrication. So imagine making parts out of metal gears say that need no lubrication, and it weighs half as much in the last three times longer. And it’s three times harder than steel. So many industries will be revolutionized by this model. And so in this case, we actually have taken a leadership position to actually open the first manufacturing facilities to build parts out of this metal for dozens of companies. And we’re very excited about the implications. We also have the patents, everything we do is patented at Kairos. And the other thing that we have is we have patents for coatings. So you can actually coat the metal, other metals like steel with titanium now, which makes it three times stronger. You know, we have new molecules for drugs and treatments of patients, and to find cures in a wide range of medical challenges where, you know, whether it’s pancreatic cancer, we have one company that actually has 75% of the patients that have been treated with stage four pancreatic cancer patients were supposed to be dead in 60 days are alive. Nine months, 10 months later, 11 months later. So exciting technologies. And I think what I what is important is that we as a society, I think need to continue to support science. Social Networks are a part of our fabric now. They’re not going away. They’re important. It’s how my kids socialize in many ways, and have so many friends, even though they’re homeschool. But science makes long lasting changes that improve the quality of life of all of us. We can reduce the cost of power. We have a plasma sparkplug out of USC, that actually reduces carbon emissions by 25%. And it’s retrofittable to all existing cars for a couple of 100 bucks, so you could actually take combustion engines and improve their fuel efficiency by 25%. These types of innovations are out there but they take time and effort and they’re hard they’re physics they’re chemistry, they’re biology, they’re nanotech, they’re electrical engineering but they’re hard to bring to market. And I would encourage all of us to continue to push towards science make sure our children are educated and Science, because it’s through science that we will see significant improvements in our quality of life for all of us.
Alan Olsen: Well, Jim, it’s been a pleasure having you with us today to share what’s going on currently at Kairos. ventures. If an individual wants to reach out to you For more information or share things with you, how would they go about contacting you?
Jim Demetriades: Sure, my, my email is Jimd@Kairosventures.com Happy to work together with people to continue to advance science for for all of us.
Alan Olsen: Very, good, Jim. It’s been pleasure having you with us today.
Jim Demetriades: Thanks, Alan. appreciate it very much.
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