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An always-evolving + curious + introspective leader in global education & innovation
• co-founded @StreetlightSchools, named a wonderful example by South Africa's President •
• led expansion for education incubator @4pt0Schools to NYC + 20 US cities
• secured an investment banking job @BarclaysCapital from a non-core school•
• Global Shaper, @JohannesburgHub - a @WEF initiative •
Be On Deck Entrepreneurship Fellow, Cohort 4 ODF4 •
I am ​a deeply reflective and self-aware leader who translates ideas into reality, creating innovative products, programs, services and companies to tackle big, complex problems. Over the last decade, I've worked and engaged with hundreds of stakeholders globally at the intersection of innovation, education, entrepreneurship and equity.

I am a T-shaped entrepreneur + economist balancing data + narrative with expertise in finance, operations,  fundraising, leadership coaching, community building and designing powerful learning experiences (LD/LX).

My Super Powers include:

  • Building, maintaining and extending powerful communities of values-driven leaders

  • Deep reflective habits and self-awareness, combined with curiosity, relentless drive and high output, which allow me to constantly be evolving and transforming myself

  • Building and leading high-performing teams

  • Systems thinking and deriving uncommon insights across disciplines

This is my personal and professional website, and showcases insightful and creative things I've built, written, composed and read. I can also be found online everywhere under the moniker @davidthefu (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Medium, Twitter) and of course here davidfu.co.

 
THINGS I'VE BUILT
(and transactions I've facilitated)

~$50 billion transaction in 2013 whereby Abbott Laboratories sought to unlock value by spinning out its research-based pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie and retain diversified products including medical devices, diagnostic equipment. The spin-off has unlocked significant value since.

Led structuring for a SPAC for Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, Martin Frankling and Pershing Square's William Ackman of Justice Holdings Limited in 2011, raising £900 million (~$1.6 billion) via IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

Transaction whereby Burger King went public via reverse merger with Justice Holdings and relisted on the NYSE. Other notable companies to have gone public via reverse merger w a SPAC include Virgin Galactic, DraftKings and Vivint (owned by Blackstone).

THINGS I'VE WRITTEN
 

On Leadership

  1. Reflecting On Challenges and Lessons From Leading Streetlight in 2019 (author, Feb 2020) 

  2. On Dope People Doing Dope Shit, (Good Bets Unplugged podcast guest, Oct 2019)

  3. Evolving To Lead & Empower Others (author, Jul 2019) - on becoming CEO for Streetlight Schools 

On Education

  1. (Why We Need A) New Vision for Learning Design & Learning Experience (author, Apr 2020)

  2. What Innovation Looks Like In Education (author, Apr 2020) - analyzing Streetlight according to IDEO's framework

  3. Building Education Innovation Ecosystems & Communities (author, Mar 2017)

On Venture Capital & Entrepreneurship

  1. Emerging Communities For Entrepreneurs Globally (author, May 2020)

  2. It's Time (To Empower People) To Build (author, Apr 2020) - a letter responding to Marc Andreessen's piece

  3. Empowering Networks In Venture Capital (author, Dec 2019)

 
THINGS I'VE READ
THINGS I'VE RECORDED
 

Some of my favorites include:

  • Added 31 May 2020
    Peter Thiel: Zero To One and a list from serial tech and education entrepreneur turned (education) angel investor John Danner on things founders should read; it's a powerful list including Lean Startup, customer validation and moats.

  • Added 31 May 2020
    Julian Shapiro: Growth Marketing Guide, especially the post on landing pages (which I use every time I want to conceptualize, refine and crystallize a startup idea before validation).

  • Added 3 May 2020
    Seymour Papert: Why School Reform Is Impossible is thought-provoking, nearly 30 years after he wrote this response to Tinkering Towards Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform. He uses the word reform with a specific context and nuance, and a must read for anyone working in the education sector.

  • Added 3 May 2020 
    Andy Matuschak: who is writing about tools of thought and exploring them, including researching, developing, and experimenting with a new mnemonic medium and ex (also, his quantum computing intro is outstanding and where he implements and tests a lot of these ideas)
    Added before 3 May 2020

  • Dan Wang: An amazing essay, plus the follow up on optimism as human capital and how to maintain an innovative edge. He also wrote an amazing review of The Three Body Problem trilogy - which is a thought-provoking read. Chinese sci-fi's rise in China and globally over last few years has been spectacular.

  • Gary Chou: A fascinating experiment and lessons on next-generation learning design to help people develop some core entrepreneurial skills: how to navigate uncertainty and build networks.

  • Matthew Ball: Why gaming is the only sector in entertainment that has room to grow.

  • Ben Thompson: Un/rebundling of the value chain due to disruptive innovation in consumer/DTC companies.

  • Distill: Applied, cutting edge journal for machine learning research.

  • Gyorgy Buzsaki: From a life-long, Hungarian neuroscientist comes this cross-disciplinary tour-de-force and bold way to think about and study the brain--rather than by trying to focus on constructs like memory, perception or consciousness created before we understood the brain's neurophysiology and how the brain gives rise to these phenomena ('outside-in')--by focusing on the brain's underlying parts, mechanisms, physiology, morphology, oscillations, rhythms ('inside-out'). Written both for a layperson to understand but with depth to be explored via citations for budding and even advanced scientists.

One of my many hobbies and joys is playing music. I've been playing piano for over 20 years, and have gradually added new musical skills like vocals, keyboard, jazz, improvisation, and beat-making. Over time, I've posted music to Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud and beyond. I've included a selection of some of my favorites below:

  1. An original jazz-infused track with touches of soul and swing | fu - 'take me away' (embedded above)

  2. An R&B cover (w vocals) | Tamia’s ‘So Into You’ (inspired by Donald Glover’s Like A Version cover) (embedded above)

  3. A hip hop piano cover (for two hands) | Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ (second pair of hands belongs to my friend Melanie)
     

  4. Improvisational jazz | ‘甜苦瓜’ 

  5. An improvisational score | ‘Hope Infinite’

  6. An improvised melody on an outdoor vibra-/xylo-phone

  7. A rambling piano improvisation | 'Mystical Path through the (Piano) Mind of Fusuf'
     

  8. A classical piece | Maurice Ravel's 'Pavane pour une infante défunte'

Made lovingly in South Africa.

PS: If you are based or ever find yourself in Johannesburg and want to jam, hit me up:

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