Build fearlessly, learn openly

Outsized returns come from neglected ideas.

Long-term innovation happens by thinking about what is possible in the future. This process is messy and uncertain. As a result, many high potential ideas are often passed over. We believe that neglected ideas have the most potential for outsized returns.

Astera supports promising innovators during their earliest stages of exploration. We encourage rapid experimentation to inform better theories. We accept risk and partial information. Our intention is to help develop new ideas before they are attractive to most funders and nurture the promising ones towards independence.

Astera also prioritizes parallel technological or field-building efforts that can increase the impact and opportunity space for innovators. Solving hard problems requires community engagement in broad experimentation and learning.

Do the Experiment

Uncertainty and chaos can paralyze us. We advance through testing and applying our knowledge. Sometimes empirical action is the fastest path to broadening our understanding.

Rethink the System

The world is constantly evolving, and our systems should too. We examine fundamental aspects of our institutions that might limit solutions. We are willing to step outside traditional systems to test new ideas.

Take Big Bets

The most valuable solutions come from high-risk endeavors. This requires big bets on not only ideas but also people. We aim to find the right founder-problem pairings that can open up entirely new frameworks or fields.

Draw A Constellation

Ambitious problems need more than individuals. Big things need a collective movement. Astera seeks to build a critical threshold of force multipliers who can broadly connect, enable, and coordinate others.

Institute Leadership

Jed McCaleb headshot
Jed McCaleb
Founder

Jed McCaleb is the founder of the Astera Institute. His focus is on accelerating progress, expanding potential, and increasing net happiness. He is also co-founder and Chief Architect of the Stellar Development Foundation, the organization that maintains the open-source Stellar Network.

Seemay Chou headshot
Seemay Chou
Chief of Strategy

Seemay leads strategy at Astera. She is a scientist, Pew Scholar, co-founder and CEO at Arcadia Science, chairperson of The Navigation Fund, and forever-Texan at heart. She received a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from UC Berkeley and served as a professor at UC San Francisco.

Cate Hall headshot
Cate Hall
Executive Director

Cate Hall is Astera’s Executive Director. She’s a former Supreme Court attorney and the ex-No. 1 female poker player in the world. Before joining Astera, she co-founded and served as COO and later co-CEO of Alvea, a pandemic medicine company that set the record for the fastest startup to take a drug candidate to Phase I clinical trial. She received a BS in biochemistry and BA in philosophy from the University of Arizona, and a law degree from Yale Law School.

Hayley Winn headshot
Hayley Winn
Office Operations Lead

Hayley runs office operations at Astera. With a background in youth development and education, Hayley ensures the success of people and processes throughout the Astera team. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo.