You only get a few shots at building your life’s work—the kind of work that makes a difference, that can’t happen without you.
South Park Commons brings together talented people to share ideas, explore directions, and realize the opportunities that’ll get you there.
We’ve created this environment to help you take risks and launch your next endeavor. You don’t come here to play it safe—we’re here to dive off the deep end together.
Peer groups like Benjamin Franklin's Junto Club thrived in an era before higher education and professional associations were more widespread. SPC's founding members took inspiration from these groups when they came together to address the lack of support people in the tech world faced during transition periods.
"Before 2015, I had the opportunity to work at not one but two startups that were rocket ship rides: Facebook & Dropbox. Those rides were exhilarating, creating products that impacted millions, cultures designed for innovation, and feelings of kinship and relationships that will last a lifetime.
Leaving felt like a crash landing. So I started a learning group with folks who were in a similar position and looking for their next project. The first group was just 10 people around my dining table. From these origins, hundreds of curious and talented members have joined the Commons and made it their own. Members move on to start companies, find new jobs, pursue research, join philanthropies, or gain new domain expertise. I'm deeply proud of the home we built for all those talented members working to get from -1 to 0."
- Ruchi Sanghvi, Founding Member of SPC
SPC had a very informal structure for the first year. After deciding to formalize the community, members debated and experimented with different governance structures. The community considered options like elected bodies, top-down leadership, and even anarchy, before deciding on a model featuring Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) recruited from the community on a rotating schedule to own core functions.
To ensure its long-term sustainability, the SPC community decided to raise a seed fund in 2018. Informed by the expertise of the membership and a small full-time team, the fund secures SPC’s future by reserving a portion of profits for a permanent endowment and assists current members and alumni by investing in many companies that emerge from the community.
Like many organizations, SPC adapted to 2020 by going remote and discovered an opportunity to grow. While about half of our members are still based in the Bay Area, SPC has gone global, with growing sub-communities in Seattle and New York City. We are now a hybrid community, with in-person participation at our co-working spaces in San Francisco and New York, pop-ups in other cities, and fully-remote collaboration for members all over the world.
With our expertise in navigating the -1 to 0 phase, we decided to try a couple experiments. The first was investing in and supporting founders committed to starting a venture-scale company but still in the ideation phase. The result was the Founder Fellowship, a pathway through SPC combining a founder's first outside investment, community membership, a curriculum assembled from the collective knowledge of past members, and mentorship from fund partners. The second experiment was the SPC-Agency Fund Social Impact Fellowship, funding technologists, researchers, and academics seeking to leverage technology to help low-income people exert more agency in their lives.
SPC embraces a culture of experimentation. We see stagnation as the ultimate threat to our community. To stay innovative, we'll continue to explore new fellowships, community structures, programming, and investment opportunities in the years ahead.