i-ItalyNY - 5thBirthday Special Issue. The Best of i-Itay - page 20

20 |
i-Italy Magazine
| Special Issue | Winter 2017-2018
focus
An image of Alessandro Piol’s face
behind Intel’s first microprocessor, the
4004, designed by Federico Faggin in
1971. It was, Faggin said, “a work of art.”
by
Letizia Airos
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Alessandro Piol’s table/desk is inviting. Be-
hind him, windows with views of skyscrap-
ers jutting into theManhattan skyline. Piol greets
me, as does a colleague seated next to his desk,
intently working on a MacBook Air. The atmo-
sphere suddenly turns extremely pleasant. While
sipping a coffee I converse with the cofounder
and partner of Vedanta Capital and AlphaPrime
Ventures, dubbed “the smart money behind
smart software,” a major player in the scene of
East Coast startups.
Technology is in his DNA. His father, Elserino
Piol, was known as the “Italian hi-tech guru” and
the founder of venture capitalism in Italy. Some
suggest that in the U.S. “Piol would be a cross be-
tween Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs.” The stra-
tegic mastermind at Olivetti for forty years, Piol
Sr. attended Harvard and maintained a lifelong
connection with the U.S. He used to come here
frequently, for example when Olivetti was looking
for young companies to invest in, consequently be-
coming one of the first corporate venture capital
groups in theworld.Having leftOlivetti in the ‘90s,
Piol Sr. continued to work in venture capitalism
as an advisor for 4C Ventures and later became
Chairman andPartner of PinoVenture. Again, the
whole time he kept up relations with the US.
Technology, venture capitalism, America:
those are the three passions Alessandro inherited
from his father, which are ostensibly one thing,
given that investing risk capital in tech is a typi-
cally American phenomenon.
“I have lived in a world that revolves around
business and technology since I was little,” he tells
me. “Back then, Olivetti was transforming from
electro-mechanics to information technology. At
home we talked about major changes and about
technology.” Those discussions would have a de-
cisive influence on him, so that, after he finished
high school in the United States, his choice of
what to pursue in college came almost naturally:
“I liked math, physics and electronics. I immedi-
ately chose to enroll in computer engineering at
Columbia University.”
When we sat down with Alessandro
Piol, the Italian venture capitalist
based in New York who has 30 years
of experience in the field of
technology, he opened up about how
his father—in Italy, a pioneer in the
sector—taught him to love his work.
He also explained how he chooses
projects to finance and why New York
presents even greater prospects than
Silicon Valley. And he concluded with
a little “message in a bottle” for
young Italians looking to come to the
City to develop an idea.
Forget Silicon Valley, Come toNewYork!
ww
“A DIFFERENT ITALY” SERIES. SCIENCE, HI-TECH, STARTUPS (WINTER 2016)
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