Capital Intensive Ideas

Advanced manufacturing

  • Semiconductor fab-level manufacturing for everything else — DNA, food, cars, manufactured end to end entirely autonomously (@shaunmaguire)
  • Vertically integrated AWS for Matter. You draw some cad files, select various parts or provide your design and off you go, you start your new laptop company. Or anything else. (@ArtirKel)
  • Distributed black box manufacturing (@Ben_Reinhardt)
  • Low earth orbit manufacturing (@delian, teasing Varda Space Industries)

Supply chains, commerce, and logistics

  • Every sharing economy company is eBay and they will have an Amazon competitor. (@mmay3r).
  • A resilience company, capable of repairing broken supply and food chains, delivering critical material and resources wherever disaster strikes, and build system and corporate redundancy and continuation. (@Competia, pre-saging Resilience which raised $880m out of the gate.)
  • "Stripe for Construction" — worldwide, the construction industry has been plagued by stagnant or even declining productivity for decades. It is inherently difficult due to the industry's decentralized and bespoke nature. I can imagine that answer will be something in logistics, like Katerra. (@MichaelKGoff)
  • Fully automated, underground fulfillment in African cities. (@AlphaXBerry)
  • A picks and shovels business for opportunities created by SpaceX’s Starship (@DanDownsStartup)

Biology and health

  • Automated individualized medicine. Those capsules from Elysium as final destination beyond 2040, but maybe initial steps by 2025 prompted by the virus and strain on healthcare. (@MacaesBruno)
  • Education and/or healthcare delivery requiring a mix of service businesses and real estate. (@krdonnelly)
  • Psychedelic resorts/hospitality chains/treatment centers will be very common in 2040. Definitely capex-heavy to get these off the ground and scale. (@ViableBen)
  • A company that takes gene editing to the next level. This will increasingly gain public acceptance in non-human applications, then in humans as we progress towards our utopian/dystopian future. (@realnickd)

Energy, agriculture, and cities

  • High density low water use vertical farming to feed the masses (@_ram_)
  • The vertically integrated city. Build and operate charter/private cities (@shervin, @mwiyas, @ryrzny, and others)
  • Next generation home builder (@dkimerling, @abarrallen)
  • Decentralized HVAC delivering high indoor air quality & ventilation with low GHG emissions, at a zone by zone level. Probably from China. (@voeliz)
  • Replicators, Inc., which starts buying up all the landfills in 2023. By 2035, they own 85% of solid waste, which turns out to be great raw material for replicated goods. (@wbic16)
  • Gigaton-scale soil carbon sequestration (@JasonAramburu)
  • Tokamaks, fusion energy, and depleted uranium reactors (@killa_ru, @stylishandy)
  • Small, distributed, ultra safe modular nuclear reactors to mitigate carbon emissions is my guess. (@fmbutt)
  • Fusion reactors if we get them to work. The current costs of ITER are $66 billion for one prototype. Scaling that will be a no-brainer but the highest CAPEX expense in humanity so far. (@jcllobet)
  • Desalination plants that focus on American Southwest and Middle East (@pricew)


  • The Intel (or at least Fairchild) of quantum computing will likely either be founded in the next 5 years, or already exists.
  • A new kind of private military contractor. The biggest companies will continue to grow and subsume the economy. They will clash (antitrust, corporate tax) and compete (privatised equivalents of classically social services) with sovereign nations increasingly as the plays out. I think it's natural for these corporations to predict this and look for a deterrent. As these companies look more like sovereign states themselves, the natural conclusion is a force-based deterrent. They can invest in this themselves or a new company will provide it. (@stevegraham)


  • I'd bet on default winner: large, well-understood industry + emerging market + massive foreign investment with some level of local control for political/etc purposes. Cement or steel somewhere in Africa? (@patio11)
  • "If you look at where the top market value is in a $30 trillion market, if you take the top four or five companies that account for maybe four trillion or so of that 30 trillion. Basically they don’t take much capital. And that’s why they’re worth a lot. If we can find the same sort of businesses that aren’t as capital intensive. We’ve got capital. I mean we’re ideally positioned for capital intensive businesses that other people will have trouble raising capital for, but they’ve still got to promise decent returns." (@trengriffin channeling Buffett)