About me

  Pontin about portrait updated

I was born in London; raised in California, in Berkeley and on a farm on the North Coast; and educated in the United Kingdom, at Harrow School and Keble College, Oxford. My father is a businessman who cofounded a couple of companies; my mother was an actress who starred in West End musicals back in the day.

For the first part of my working life, I was bound to the masthead as a media executive and journalist. From 1996 – 2002, I was the editor of Red Herring, the bible of the dot.com boom. I edited Acumen, a life sciences journal I founded, during the next two years. From 2004 to 2017, I was the editor-in-chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review, the world’s oldest technology magazine. I wrote for many other publications, including a column for The New York Times, where I was the first to report on Twitter and other companies. I still write, mostly for Wired.

At MIT, I evolved into a kind of academic administrator and took on new roles. I founded Solve, the Institute’s open innovation platform, which deploys capital and other resources toward solutions to grand challenges; chaired the MIT Enterprise Forum, the Institute’s global entrepreneurial community; and was Senior Advisor to MIT’s 16th President, Susan Hockfield.

In 2017, I left MIT to work directly with scientist entrepreneurs, first as a senior partner at Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences innovation firm that invents the technology of its portfolio companies. Through Social Impact Capital, I was founding board member and the first investor in Totus Medicines, which has built a high-throughput platform for the rational development of covalent medicines, and an investor in Menten AI, which combines quantum computing and machine learning to design new protein-based drugs and enzymes.

Since March 2021, I’ve been a partner at DCVC, which backs companies using deep tech to build a more abundant, resilient, and equitable future. I led the firm’s investment in ZwitterCo, which binds hydrophilic zwitterions to a hydrophobic backbone to create a non-fouling membrane for water reclamation. I also serve on the boards of DCVC portfolio companies, including Evonetix, which is developing a desktop printer that synthesizes long strands of DNA, and Strateos, which makes robotic labs.

In a nice clinch, Totus is now a DCVC company.

Behind the Site

I collaborated with One Design, a branding studio at the intersection of research, design, and technology, to create an identity and digital experience that reflects my origins in media. One and I have worked together to build brands for many companies, including Generate Biomedicines, Senda Biosciences, Totus Medicines, and Valo Health.