My story

Douglas Makepeace
I am one of the lucky people. Yet when I was 40, I had accomplished nothing to speak of. Then I started to study like Bach, Darwin, Edison, Buffett and Musk.”

“I am one of the lucky people,” said Daphne Koller at the start of her TED talk.  She had a great education, which led to her teaching at Stanford, and co-founding Coursera.

I also had a great start, graduating from St Paul’s School in New Hampshire, and Columbia University in New York.  Then I worked at IBM for almost five years.  Then I joined Merrill, Lynch.  Their training programs were like specialized MBAs.

Yet when I was 40, I had accomplished so much less than my great heroes, Edison and Darwin and Bach.  They had given so much more to the world, starting with so much less.

How did they do it?  To find out, I studied their lives.  To my amazement, Bach and Darwin and Edison became great in the same way.

They gathered everything that had been written about their area of interest.  They read it, and they worked with it.  And that allowed them to see how to make progress when others couldn't.

I thought, that’s my problem.  I have only read half the books about the investment business.  So I did my best to read the other half.  Before I could finish, in 1986, I had an idea for a great investment.

I would offer people a way to invest with Templeton and Buffett and Soros, and 15 other great investors, in a single fund.  Later I found that this was called a fund of funds.  My inspiration had been a book about real estate syndications.

Templeton himself was impressed.  With his backing, my business was soon up and running.  My profile on LinkedIn offers some idea of how successful this became.

Later, I learned that Buffett and Musk were in the same habit of reading everything they could.  Buffett says he reads over 500 pages per day.  Musk asks, how else can you know what you don’t know?

Now I am helping people everywhere to read English, at their own speed, on Android mobile devices. Over half the pages of the internet are in English.  Even German and Russian offer 90% less – and the Indian dialects offer 99% less!

We aim to bring the greatest source of knowledge, the English pages of the internet, to the desks of more than a billion people.  That will really be accomplishing something!


Douglas Sperry Makepeace learned marketing from IBM, and investing from Merrill, Lynch. Sir John Templeton was Sperry Fund Management's first investor, seeding a fund of funds in 1989. In 2004, the JPMorgan Private Bank created funds for Sperry to advise, based on the 15-year record of that first fund. Sperry's assets under management grew to over $500 million.

In 1991, Sperry sponsored a single-manager fund, and raised $40 million for the manager. The first investor was George Soros, for one of the Soros funds. Others were Global Asset Management, and many early funds of funds. Mr Makepeace made many friends among hedge fund managers and investors, during the last 25 years.

My new career: teaching billions to read English better and faster.

In 2012, Sal Khan wrote a book about the new world of education. Khan Academy taught math with videos, on YouTube, to millions of people. Then in 2014, I read Abundance, a book about the growing power of technology. Soon, many of the world's shortages will be turned into abundances. Education will soon be abundant, through education technology. This will allow us to solve all the world's problems.

Most of the leaders in ed tech are in Silicon Valley. These include Kahn Academy, Coursera, Udacity (now valued at $1 billion), Singularity University, Google Education (with 500 people), and many others. I have spent over half of each year in Palo Alto, since October 2014.

In 2016, I co-founded LEARN! - LEARN on Mobile LLC. We offer 1,400 interactive lessons for reading English, from K-6. Each lesson involves tapping letters about 50 times - automatically taking on a video game quality. The pre-mobile version was tested very successfully.

Now anyone with a mobile device, and an internet connection, can learn to read English better and faster. Thor includes about 200 lessons for each year, and learners can start at their own level.

Importantly, Thor uses the same mastery learning process as Khan Academy.

My Inspirations

Sugata Mitra

Educational researcher

Sugata's famous Hole in the Wall project demonstrated how young kids could figure out how to use a PC to learn on their own.  More amazingly, those kids could learn almost anything, in groups of four.

Here's a link to his speech:


Daphne Koller

Co-founder, Coursera

Daphne Koller gave a wonderful TED Talk – an inspiration to everyone who is helping the use of technology to will improve education for everyone.

Here's a link to her speech:


Bill Gates


"Personalized learning is shaking up the classroom and letting students go at their own pace."

"One study found that among 62 schools using personalized learning, students made more progress in two years than their peers at other schools.  They started below the national average in reading and math; two years later, they were above it."

Here's more on what Bill Gates has written on improving education: