Meet the manager: Simon King

Fund Manager of Octopus Future Generations VCT.

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If you weren’t a fund manager, what job would you do?

I was a scientist before becoming an investor and I sometimes miss the type of creative problem solving that came with pushing science and technology forward at the coal face. My dream job growing up was to work as a research scientist at Bell Labs or Xerox PARC. They don’t exist in the same way they used to, so instead it might be at Google X Labs but actually a lot of the same type of work is now done in start-ups, so I would probably be working for a deeptech start-up.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

Selling WaveOptics to Snap for more than $500m a couple of years ago was a real highlight. WaveOptics designs and creates the displays used in Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. When they become ubiquitous, AR glasses will change the world. It was fantastic to be part of the journey of a company helping to deliver that vision as well as delivering a great return.

What was the most difficult moment of your career and why?

When Silicon Valley Bank crashed in March 2023 it was a very difficult weekend. A large portion of our portfolio banked with them and for many it presented a serious problem. The team and I worked through the weekend with all different stakeholders on scenario planning, but thankfully by Monday HSBC had purchased the bank and it was as if it had never happened.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Join an early-stage start-up! There is no better environment to learn. Everyone is a generalist regardless of their title because there aren’t enough people for each to just do his or her specific role. And they are the ultimate meritocracy because individual contributions have a direct and visible impact on the company's progress, so if you’re good at doing something, your efforts will be noticed and rewarded.

“I’m still working on learning a language to fluency and took on the challenge to learn Mandarin during my commute.”

Simon King, Fund Manager of Octopus Future Generations VCT

simon king

Away from the workplace, how do you spend your time?

I have three boys so my time away from work is dominated by taking them to rugby, football, jiujitsu, band practice among all the other clubs! But if I do get a free hour, I’ll spend it running.

Tell us about the last book you read or the last podcast you listened to?

I’m an avid reader of sci-fi and am working my way through Stephen Baxter’s backlog. On the podcast front I’m listening to ‘No such thing as a fish’, a podcast done by the researchers from the TV show QI; there is a backlog there too as they have been recording it weekly for ten years.

Where was the last place you went on holiday and why?

We went skiing in Switzerland earlier this year. I started skiing at university and got the bug. My wife has been skiing since she was a child and we went with her parents who are both still skiing in their seventies.

In your personal life, what would you like to achieve in the next 12 months?

I’m still working on learning a language to fluency and took on the challenge to learn Mandarin during my commute. I’m hoping I can tackle the HSK3 exam in the next 12 months which is a good step on the way!