The Big Ambitions of Mike Jones and Peter Pham

Both Mike Jones and Peter Pham have had their entrepreneurial ups and downs.

Evidently, the downs haven’t dampened their ambition. Just two months after officially launching Science, an L.A.-based “technology studio” founded by Jones, Pham, and three of their former colleagues, the team says it has launched a number of companies that are meeting with outside investors. More telling, they say they already have plans to replicate what they are building internationally.
Yes. Internationally.
It’s incredibly audacious. Then again, Science is modeled strongly after New York-based Betaworks. And Betaworks, which develops its own ideas, acquires companies and invests in nascent startups that it views as strategic to its network of companies, has done just fine in its five-year history. (Among other things, Betaworks, which helped hone both Summize and Tweetdeck, sold both to Twitter in mostly stock deals.)
For starters, Science, like Betaworks, is also structured as a company. When investors – including Rustic Canyon Partners, Tomorrow Ventures, and Siemer Ventures – gave Science its first $10 million back in November, they bought stock, not partnerships in the company. There are no management fees. And when Science makes an investment, it comes from an annual budget.
Like Betaworks, some of Science’s team focuses a little more on external deals while others are more dedicated to creating companies internally, “though we’re not really public about how we come to our decisions,” Jones told me in an interview yesterday.
Still, there are plenty of differences. Betaworks doesn’t incubate outside ideas. Science will. Though it’s baking up ideas inside its Santa Monica offices, the firm will “also look at external teams and think about concepts they’re going after and see if we can help them out,” says Jones.
Unlike Betaworks, Science is also willing to work with “later-stage [outside] teams on the challenges they have. So we’ll work with a larger company that’s public traded and looking to innovate on how they reinvigorate their business. We might come to them with what we can do or what ventures we think they should be exploring.”
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