Private companies

Chris Evdaimon

Chris Evdaimon is an investment manager in the Private Companies Team and leads our on-the-ground presence in San Francisco.

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Chris Evdaimon sat while leaning against a table.
Investing in private companies is essentially being at the service of the founders who welcome us as shareholders in their business. It’s all about people, whether responsibly providing those entrepreneurs with our clients’ capital, assisting them with timely advice or sharing other thoughtful resources, whenever possible.

A purposeful life

My Greek surname comes from the Aristotelian principle of Eudaimonia, which the ancient philosopher defined as the highest human good: living a happy life, full of activity, always in accordance with reason. I strive to live up to those principles.

In my twenties, they encouraged me to cofound a company, ECDL Hellas – now PeopleCert. I spent five years as chief operating officer of the professional skills exam specialist. Building and operating a company yields learnings, pressures, failures and gratification that neither academic study nor other professional endeavour can provide.

Can-do in China

I started backing others’ early-stage companies as a hobby, with limited expectations. After my first six angel investments, I discovered early-stage venture capital, which took me to Beijing and a partnership at Sinovation Ventures. Working there, alongside renowned computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee, gave me a different perspective that continues to inform my investing.

This was the early 2010s, when China’s start-up ecosystem was in its fast-paced, formative years. I was struck by the can-do, conquer-it-all mentality of the nation’s company founders. Having this aggressive attitude was often critical to their businesses having a chance of survival. The flip side was that it could also encourage them to become overextended. In the west, this ‘extreme fighting’ characteristic is rarer, and I don’t actively look for it in the leaders of companies I back. But when I find it, I appreciate it.

Impact and experience

There’s no paradox in making money while having a measurable, beneficial impact on society and the environment. The world has acute and time-pressing problems, and the solutions are much more likely to come from entrepreneurship than any other source.

I watch out for seasoned entrepreneurs with a long-term vision, perseverance and, above all, the ability to execute. Those who, when presented with a choice, take the long-term option. I also look for first-time founders who exhibit any signs of these traits.

Common ground

Alignment between founders, investors and other stakeholders is the crucial ingredient in the recipe for a company’s long-term success.

The end to cheap capital only reinforces the point. I expect everyone’s interests will be served by access to funds being more limited over the next 10 years than in the previous decade. Companies will have to make tougher choices and demonstrate that they have a path to profitable growth. This will encourage founders to take a more rational and sustainable approach to building a business. And that will likely give rise to new category winners that stand the test of time.


San Francisco, California

Favourite books

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future

Jon Gertner: The Idea Factory

Get in touch

Send a message to Chris, or email the Private Companies Team directly.