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Trae Stephens recalls the importance of the easy button while working for the government.

Trae Stephens recalls the importance of the easy button while working for the government. “We were approached by a company that was offering a product that would save me a whole day of work every week. It would make me 20 percent more productive, and all I had to do was access the software. I pushed and pushed and, finally, there was an email that went out from the tech director that said, ‘Someone please tell Trae to get back in the box.”

Frustrated, Trae eventually left the government to work for Palantir Technologies, a public American software company that specializes in big data analytics. But as Trae moved into Palantir, he remembered the importance of this moment.

“Being able to bring something like that to the government, something that would make the government’s job easier, stuck with me. It became my guiding principle of how to sell products to the government—by having a deep understanding of how the product is being used. It helped clarify the outcomes we were trying to achieve.”

Now, Trae is a partner at Founders Fund, a venture capital firm founded in San Francisco in 2005. Founders Fund was organized by PayPal cofounders Peter Thiel, Ken Howery, and Luke Nosek. With over $11 billion in aggregate capital under management in 2022, Founders Fund has a proven record of investing in companies that have made the government’s job easier.

For example, Founders Fund was the first institutional investor in both SpaceX and Palantir Technologies, which have both grown on their ability to solve key government needs in space and software technologies, respectively. And “building the easy button” for the government remains a key focus of Trae’s approach to government-interfacing ventures.

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