The Future of Food With David Friedberg


NewCo Speaker Spotlight

David Friedberg is a serial entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley, having started a number of notable companies including The Climate Corporation, a climate-prediction startup, Eatsa, an automated quinoa-based fast food chain with no cashiers, and Metromile, a pay-per-mile auto insurance company.

An ex-Googler with a degree in astrophysics, Friedberg was involved in launching products like AdWords and Gmail. In 2006, he quit Google to co-found The Climate Corporation, which builds weather prediction tools for farmers. He sold the company to Monsanto for $1.1 billion in 2013.

Friedberg is not one to shy away from big problems and difficult decisions. A lifelong vegetarian and environmentalist, he became an unlikely ally to Monsanto, long seen as the face of big agriculture. After the acquisition, he wrote a letter that explained the decision to his employees, noting that, “a lot of the ‘bad things’ being said about Monsanto are simple truths about the nature of doing business at scale.” And if there’s one thing that Friedberg is focused on, it’s changing the way we produce and eat food — at scale.

He continues to operate at the intersection of food and technology, championing the ways that data and automation can be used to help us build a healthier, more sustainable food supply. The time is right: climate change is threatening crops around the world and making supply chains increasingly precarious, while animal protein — a staple of traditional fast food — is widely considered to be part of the problem.

With quinoa — a nutritious and affordable food with a much lower environmental footprint — Friedberg believes he’s found a sustainable, market-based solution. “The world desperately need alternative sources of protein that are affordable and more sustainable than meat,” his co-founder said, and the reduced costs from automation are helping them get there. As Friedberg said, “In order to eat healthy and environmentally conscious, you’re paying a huge premium in dollars and time. I don’t think those trade-offs are needed if you’re smart about technology.”

In this sense, Friedberg sits right in the middle of two of the most pressing topics of our time: climate change and automation. That’s why we’re pleased to have him join us for a session at NewCo Shift Forum, NewCo’s new executive conference covering “Capitalism at a Crossroads.” He’ll be discussing how businesses like Eatsa are transforming the fast food industry and driving the shift towards a more sustainable food supply. Joining 400 of the best minds in business, technology, and government, Friedberg will help us explore a new compact between business and society. We’re now accepting applications for delegates, and we’d love for you to learn more and apply.

Join us for the NewCo Shift Forum, where 400 of the best minds in business, technology, and government will come together for two days of focused, action-oriented dialog.

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