LA Venture Podcast: Chang Xu's Basis Set Ventures Focuses On AI and Automation

On this week's episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, hear from Chang Xu, partner at Basis Set Ventures, a $140 million fund focused on AI and automation - technology that transforms the way people work.


Basis Set Ventures focuses on four pieces: infrastructure, collaboration, automation and autonomy. Chang spends a lot of time on infrastructure, and she breaks it down into four themes: raise the ceiling, lower the floor, open space and data privacy.

By raise the ceiling, Chang says there's "always going to be better and more secure and faster fundamental building blocks for infrastructure to the tune of database systems and streaming data and...infrastructure as code."

Lower the floor is about no code and low code, which, for example, could allow for not-trained people to build their own apps without relying on software developers. Chang predicts a proliferation of tools that she says will enable "people to create regardless of their technical abilities and their starting point."

When I heard "open source" I figured she meant "free." But, Chang says, open source "is almost table stakes for how infrastructure is discovered, bought and sold today."

Lastly, Chang says they see "data privacy as a really large tailwind and emerging space" because it is tackling the challenge of adhering to privacy regulations, but at the same time innovating fast, while taking advantage of the growing amounts of data companies are amassing.

Chang and her partners aren't just stuck on tech, they're also keenly interested in what makes a lasting and impactful founder. She says her firm's research has revealed that "successful founders are humble operators, agile visionaries and seasoned executives. And the less successful founders...are passionate outsiders, overconfident storytellers and stubborn individuals."

This interview goes deep into machine learning optimization (ML Ops), what Chang learned from her many years at Upfront, like how to craft a good narrative and practical advice for startups on how to form a board.

Not incidentally, Chang is L.A.-based, though the Basis Set operates out of San Francisco.

Chang Xu is a partner at Basis Set Ventures. Previously, she was a principal at Upfront Ventures, the oldest and largest SoCal-based early stage venture capital firm. Prior to joining Upfront, she was a founder and operator. She was the first product manager at the Minerva Project. She co-founded and was the COO of Onion Math, an edtech startup in China that has raised $90 million to date. She started her career at BCG where she advised clients across technology, retail, healthcare and private equity. She holds an MBA and AB in Applied Math and Computer Science, both from Harvard. (bio from Basis Set).

dot.LA Sr. Podcast Producer & Editor Laurel Moglen contributed to this post.

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