ENTREPRENEUR IN RESIDENCE: ENDING AUSTIN’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

OVERVIEW

Austin needs a fresh approach to solve the homelessness crisis. Some of Austin’s most innovative business and technology leaders—including Joe Lonsdale and Brian Sheth—are investing significant resources—both financial and their time - in anew initiative affiliated with the Cicero Institute to solve this challenge.

The Cicero Institute is seeking an entrepreneurial-minded, mission-driven MBA to develop a new non-profit organization and lead this effort.  This position would work closely with these Austin-based business leaders, who have started hundreds of companies, created thousands of jobs, and managed large funds. Many of the top-growth businesses today are mission driven, and this is a great opportunity for the right individual to work with these leaders to build a new, mission-driven organization that can serve as a model for other cities across the nation. Cicero’s Judge Glock, a national expert on homeless policy, will also serve as an advisor.

The Entrepreneur in Residence will be tasked with building the program from the ground up, with a focus on three outcomes:

  • Creating and implementing a new strategy based on business-style principles to solve homelessness, which may require collaborating with existing groups, as well as government officials from the city of Austin and State of Texas.
  • Organizing quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing Austin-based homeless groups, their impact, as well as substance-use and mental health-based interventions.
  • Working with a documentary film team that will help the public to better understand the issues around homelessness and the solutions to it. 

BACKGROUND

Over the past decade, Austin built almost 2,000 “permanent supportive housing” beds, enough to house almost every homeless person in the city. Just a few years ago, the Austin City Council also approved a new plan to allow more permissive camping and create even more permanent beds, which they now say will cost over $500 million. They said their plan would “end homelessness.” Despite these efforts, homelessness in the city increased by 30% in recent years. Most disturbingly, the unsheltered population—those living on the streets—increased by 50%, while homeless deaths tripled.

Now Austin has an unprecedented opportunity to transform from a laggard into a leader on homelessness. In May 2021, a large bipartisan majority of Austinites reinstated a ban on public camping. Instead of building more permanent housing, we can use the camping ban and local philanthropy to encourage more homeless into community-based shelters, substance rehabilitation, and mental health treatment that truly works.

This project seeks to employ top business talent in partnership with the expertise created by successful organizations (like Community First and Haven for Hope) to study and extract the essential aspects of successful existing programs, especially locally-based programs, and expand on them by creating a first-of-its-kind organization in Austin.

VISIONARIES

Joe Lonsdale

Joe Lonsdale is the managing partner at 8VC, a US-based venture capital firm which manages over five billion dollars in committed capital.  He was an early institutional investor in many notable companies including Oculus, Guardant Health (NASDAQ: GH), Oscar (NYSE:OSCR), Anduril, Wish (NASDAQ: WISH), Illumio, and many others.  Before focusing on institutional investing, Joe co-founded Palantir (NASDAQ: PLTR) a global software company known for its work in defense and other industries, as well as for providing the platform to run the COVID-19 common operating picture for key decision makers in over 35 countries. 

After Palantir, he founded and remains as Chairman of bothAddepar, which has over $2.5 trillion managed on its wealth management technology platform, and OpenGov, which provides software for over 2,000 municipalities and state agencies. More recently, he is also a co-founder of Affinity, Epirus, Esper, Swiftscale Bio, Resilience Bio, and other mission-driven technology companies, which he continues to create with his team out of the 8VC Build program. Joe began his career as an early executive at Clarium Capital, which he helped grow into a large global macro hedge fund. He also worked with PayPal while he attended Stanford.

Brian Sheth

Brian Niranjan Sheth is an Austin, Texas-based business leader, conservationist, and philanthropist. He is the Founder of Haveli Investments, an investment platform launched in 2021 that invests strategic growth capital in leading technology and gaming enterprises as well as top performing social entrepreneurs. Haveli’s cornerstone is environmental sustainability. Brian has committed half of his personal stake in the profits of the company to furthering his conservation philanthropy.

Brian has spent almost twenty-five years investing in technology businesses. His experience includes direct involvement in hundreds of investments and dispositions, valued at well over $100 billion, serving as board chairman of dozens of companies, mentoring hundreds of entrepreneurs, executives, and investors, and investing across capital structures including control buyouts, minority growth equity, structured equity, and debt. Regardless of the form of investment, the focus has always been on identifying the highest quality companies and positioning those businesses both strategically and operationally for improved growth and market position.

Before founding Haveli Investments, Brian was the President of Vista Equity Partners. During his 20-year career at Vista, the firm was recognized multiple times as the best performing private equity firm in the world.

Both Joe and Brian have already made substantial commitments to local homelessness groups. They believe that this new program will expand upon and assist the growth of those successful groups, by showing what works to best improve the lives of the homeless.

REQUIREMENTS

Applicants must hold an MBA, or be able to explain why they have equivalent or superior experience in business thinking and planning. Interested individuals should be open to new ideas without fixed preconceptions regarding the homelessness crisis and its potential solutions. The position will require a start-up mentality, the ability to be self-directed, an understanding of public relations, some amount of statistical training, understanding of both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and comprehension of public policy issues. 

Applicants should exhibit good judgment, discretion, and feel comfortable interacting with individuals from all walks of life in diverse settings. Compensation will be very competitive.

TO APPLY:

We are seeking to fill this position as soon as possible. To apply, please submit your resume, cover letter, and three professional references to Judge Glock at judge@ciceronistitute.org. Your cover letter should detail your interest in solving the homelessness crisis, evidence of your entrepreneurial spirit, and examples of successful project management.

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