WASHINGTON — Shield Capital, a venture firm that invests in defense and space startups, announced that retired U.S. Air Force general David Goldfein has joined its national security advisory board.

Goldfein, who was chief of staff of the Air Force from 2016 to 2020, will advise investors and entrepreneurs trying to match commercial technologies with national security needs.

San Francisco-based Shield Capital, led by former Pentagon and Defense Innovation Unit officials, has a portfolio of companies focused on artificial intelligence, autonomy, cybersecurity and space. Its space ventures include remote sensing companies HawkEye 360 and Albedo

“As we are seeing in the Ukraine conflict, commercial technology is becoming even more important in advancing national security. Our military can leverage this technology to modernize capabilities and save taxpayer dollars,” said Shield Capital partner Michael Brown.

David Goldfein

Defense and space contractor L3Harris is a strategic investor in Shield Capital.

Raj Shah, managing partner at Shield Capital, said Goldfein brings expertise in “integrating new capabilities across information dominance, cyber security and space operations in the Department of Defense, and will provide critical insights to Shield companies.”

Goldfein also serves as a senior advisor to the private equity firm Blackstone. In a statement, he said Shield Capital is “funding the innovation that will matter to tomorrow’s fight.” 

On what advice he would give to a space startup, Goldfein said he tells entrepreneurs to think about how technology can solve problems. 

“There were two playbooks industry used with me in my former role as chief of staff of the Air Force,” he said. “Most often, they would get in the door with a retired three- or four-star who brought a business development person with a stack of 20+ slides to show me some new technology they hoped I was interested in.”

“This never worked and wasted my time and theirs,” Goldfein said. 

Others, meanwhile, came in with actual solutions to problems and invested in technology that addressed specific needs, he said. “This worked 100% of the time and often resulted in contracts. The moral of the story? Do your homework and bring real solutions, not just cool tech.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...