I met Tommy Leep over a decade ago now. He was working for Floodgate back then. We immediately became friends. Since then, he’s been on a journey – some ups, some downs. He made incredible contributions to Haystack as a friend and consultant for many years, and truth be told, I tried for long time to rope him into Haystack, but Tommy is smart on another level from most folks I know. He quickly identified that he needed to pick the people he wanted to back as founders outright, and that insight has catapulted Tommy to leverage AngelList to start his own dedicated micro fund: Jetstream. I am personally investing in Jetstream simply because I have always wanted to invest in Tommy and work even closer with him.
Tommy finally found his passion and calling in life. With Jetstream, he will be investing in the earliest rounds of climate-focused startups. It can sound cliche to highlight an investor who is now 100% focused on this sector, but knowing Tommy for as long as I have and as closely as we’ve worked together, I can assure others this is his calling. He is a Bay Area Native, someone who is most at ease outdoors, and someone who never really felt quite right in the traditional world of venture capital — and I cite this as a good thing. After 2020’s wildfires, something clicked for Tommy — he wanted to pick the founders he worked with, he wanted to focus on this problem as motivation for working toward something bigger, and he wanted to hang up his own shingle to do so.
There are plenty of rational reasons for me to invest in Jetstream. I know Tommy very, very well. Haystack likely won’t “focus on climate” as a sector, and so this is a great way for me to learn more about the emerging sector through Tommy’s experiences. Like many others, I feel more comfortable with participating in this challenge through these means — helping new companies get started that could lead to awesome solutions we can’t dream of today — versus other avenues of participation.
But there are deeply personal reasons for me to back Jetstream, to back Tommy. He is sort like family. My kids know him. He comes over monthly on his bike rides and hangs out in our backyard. Sometimes my kids will randomly ask, “Is Uncle Tommy coming by?” In my 10 years in the Bay Area in this world, I would be hard-pressed to find someone with the level of EQ power Tommy wields. There’s no doubt in my mind that when he commits to something like this, committing to finding and supporting founders in the climate space, that those founders will want Tommy along for the ride. it’s a big time of change for Tommy – he’s going to be a dad soon, he’s starting a new fund, and emerging from post-pandemic life into a new world he will make into his own.