Giant leaps forward: We believe in a future where humanity continues to leap forward, to overcome our great challenges.
Passionate few: Blackbird was founded on the belief that small groups of people create the biggest change. The name “Blackbird” comes from a jet developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team, who were separated out from the main engineering organisation to design and build jets that were inconceivable to most.
"The only chance you have in life is to be unpopular". Wild ideas always seem silly at the outset and that's why we say that the single unit of Blackbird is belief.
Blackbird is a startup and will always be run as a startup. Our founders wear t-shirts and so do we. We believe in substance over style (you aren't the suit you wear). As a metaphor, this value speaks to our collective desire to build a culture that allows personal expression, that encourages Blackbirds to bring their full and true selves to work every day.
Founders come first, they are our reason for being. We work for our founders, they don’t work for us. We believe in founder-led businesses. If there are grey areas, we will side with our founders, as we believe this will maximise our returns in the long term. Our reputation with founders is everything and we will guard it relentlessly.
We make high conviction decisions after careful research and debate, but also trust our instincts built up over years of pattern matching. We understand all startups are messy and will invest through the mess where we love the mission. We back founders for their exceptional strengths, not their lack of weaknesses. And, we need to fall in love with the businesses we back. It’s 100% conviction or nothing.
We don’t need to know all the answers to make an investment decision. We’ll look to maximise the upside, rather than minimise the risks. We’d rather back the hungry founder than the proven one. We understand that the next great business will probably not look like the last one and we will push ourselves to invest in emerging areas. Sometimes people will think we’re crazy to make an investment — we’re happy with that. And we’re comfortable with the fact that we’ll often be wrong.
We invest for the long term. Building iconic businesses takes the best part of a decade — or longer. We don’t plan for exits. We want to back founders who are doing their life’s work, who say no to the $30m acquisition offer and then say no to the $300m offer. You can’t get to be a billion-dollar company if you sell at $300m. We know the difficult thing is building a great business, not selling our stake in a great business.
Everything we do, we will do with integrity, in a way that we’d be happy tell our kids about. It’s also a reference to the responsibility we feel for our investors’ capital. We will take care and strive to deliver excellent returns in a fair and transparent manner. We will always put our investors ahead of our personal interests. We will comply with regulations and pay our taxes.
And finally, our kids and our spouses are an important part of the Blackbird family. We’ll work hard, but we’ll not let Blackbird get in the way of spending enough time with them.