How did your love of film lead to a passion for consumer technology?
REX – As a kid, I was lucky enough to star in a movie that my dad made. While I'm sorry to say that my film career never took off, I fell in love with media, content, and storytelling. I grew up memorizing box office numbers and Oscar winners, which morphed into a fascination with internet culture. I approach investing through the lens of how people and technology intersect. People are spending time in new ways: they're creating content, gaming, livestreaming, socializing in virtual worlds. The pandemic has compressed decades of behavior changes into months. The companies created today will define the next generation of culture.
How does your experience as an online creator influence how you invest in the creator economy?
REX – In a past life, I made a living as a creator on Instagram and in the future, more people will be creators. The internet removed gatekeepers, which has unlocked an incredible amount of talent and self-expression. New platforms and tools let people monetize their individuality and creativity. We’ve seen this in the Index portfolio with game developers building in Roblox, with fans supporting creators on Patreon, with creator communities connecting in Discord. This isn't just the future of entertainment, but also the future of work, the future of education, and the future of social interaction. I believe that this is a decades-long trend. A robust ecosystem is forming around creators, reshaping the architecture of art and creativity and ushering in a digital Renaissance.
What do people misunderstand about technology and Silicon Valley?
REX – Tech isn't moral or immoral—it's amoral, and we're seeing a backlash to some ways it's been misused. But we can't lose sight of the fact that technology is broadening access and improving lives. I'm deeply interested in how the internet creates community. When I was in college, I started an organization called Worthy that helps LGBTQ+ mentees find mentors for support and guidance. Worthy couldn’t have grown without social media, which gave people a place to connect and find belonging. Later, working in impact investing at The Rise Fund, I saw that tech is a force multiplier: it accelerates impact across every sector. To take on our generation's biggest problems, we need people connecting on the internet and building with software.
Rex focuses on venture and growth investments in internet, media, and consumer software. He’s particularly interested in online communication, virtual worlds, and the creator economy.
Prior to Index, Rex worked at Airtable, a no-code platform letting anyone create with software. Previously, Rex was an investor at TPG Growth and The Rise Fund, TPG’s global growth equity and social impact funds, where he oversaw the launch of TPG’s impact measurement tool at the World Economic Forum. He has run creator marketing for Calm and worked on social innovation policy for the California Governor’s Office.
Rex graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Economics. He was a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University, where he pursued an M.B.A from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an M.A. in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Rex writes Digital Native, a weekly blog about consumer technology.