The Koch family name often invokes the sprawling Wichita, Kan.-based chemical and energy conglomerate, Koch Industries, which pulls in more than $110 billion in annual revenue and helps fund the family’s philanthropic and political endeavors.
But a lesser-known venture firm called Koch Disruptive Technologies — helmed by Chase Koch, the son of multi-billionaire Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch — aims to make waves in the venture space and set a path forward for Koch Industries with notable investments in sectors like tech and healthcare.
In a newly released interview, Chase Koch described Koch Disruptive Technologies as a “win-win” for company founders, which receive the resources and expertise made possible by the venture firm’s vicinity to Koch Industries; and for the chemical giant, which can use the firm as laboratory for transforming its holdings.
“I spotted an opportunity to say, what if we brought all of Koch Industries together as kind of this Koch laboratory concept and offer that to technology founders in a way that they haven’t experienced,” says Koch, 42, the president of Koch Disruptive Technologies.
“But it’s a win-win,” he adds. “That helps Koch Industries as well because we’re on this journey of trying to transform a lot of our industrial companies to being technology companies, we feel like if we don’t do that some of our businesses will become dinosaurs.”
“We have to stay ahead,” he says.
Founded two-and-a-half years ago, the firm has invested more than $900 million in companies that make products like medical technology, autonomous vehicles, and 3D-printing.
“We’ve invested in growth companies all the way to very early stage companies,” he says. “We’re industry-agnostic and we’re stage-agnostic.”
Chase Koch says the company decides whether to invest in a given venture by ensuring it meets four criteria: principled and experienced founders, a disruptive business model, a large societal impact if successful, and potential benefit to the Koch brand.
“We make investments in these companies but then we also connect them into Koch,” he says.
Koch made the remarks in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Since 2017, Koch has served as president of Koch Disruptive Technologies, which invests in companies developing advances in cybersecurity, medicine, and other sectors. He has held a position on the board of directors at Koch Industries since 2013, according to LinkedIn.
Some observers have speculated that Chase Koch’s position atop Koch Disruptive Technologies, or KDT, is a precursor to his eventual appointment as CEO of Koch Industries, which is privately held.
“My focus is I want to make KDT successful and do a really good job there,” he says. “Then maybe a bigger job is there for me in the future.”
“We believe in putting the right people in the right roles, no matter what the role is, no matter who has what last name,” he adds. “So am I that guy or not? I don’t know.”