After a three-year stint serving the Obama Administration, Jake Fingert is starting a new chapter: venture capital. The former White House senior policy adviser for infrastructure has joined real estate-focused venture capital firm Camber Creek as a partner.
At the White House, Fingert served on the National Economic Council and managed the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide plan to increase infrastructure investment through collaborations with the private sector. He was also the National Economic Council lead for the White House “Smart Cities” program, which aims to infuse new technology in U.S. cities.
Prior to joining the Obama team, Fingert held an executive position at the General Services Administration where he managed a 375-million-square-foot real estate portfolio and the government’s real estate acquisitions program.
Fingert says the White House taught him to “think like a skeptic but act like an entrepreneur.” In other words, he was trained “to dig deep and understand people’s motivations” before moving forward with a new initiative.
Camber Creek took note and spent 2016 recruiting Fingert to join their firm, which invests primarily in real estate tech companies. Fingert’s network and connections with government officials made him an attractive candidate.
“A lot of the action you’re able to take at the White House is by calling people up and saying, ‘Hey we’re interested in getting this done, will you help,’” Fingert says. “In venture capital, the same is true -- we tap into the network aggressively to understand people’s perspective on the market and the company.”
Although venture capital may seem like an unexpected next step for someone like Fingert, it’s not uncommon. Josh Miller, the White House's first director of product, joined Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital as an “entrepreneur-in-residence” last month. And let’s not forget that former treasury secretary Tim Geithner joined private equity firm Warburg-Pincus back in 2013.
Obama’s administration has been particularly venture-friendly. The former president appointed famed Kleiner Perkins VC John Doerr to his economic advisory board, launched the Startup America campaign, and Obama himself hinted he might be interested in becoming a VC.
“The venture ecosystem has been such a valuable source of innovation in this country,” Fingert says. “It’s only natural that you continue to see more and more collaboration between future administrations and the venture community.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Fingert led the White House Smart Cities initiative. Fingert was the National Economic Council lead for the White House Smart Cities program.