Every once in a while I display some emotion publicly that I regret. That happened last Thursday night on the subject of coporate venture capital.
I have written here before on the subject of corporate venture capital. I am not a fan of it.
But I do feel compelled to be more precise than I was last thursday.
There are two kinds of corporate investments in startups; passive corporate VC arms and active strategic investments.
The former is made by well established investment groups like Google Ventures, Intel Ventures, SAP Ventures, Comcast Ventures, and many many more. For the most part, they don't "suck". They can be a good source of capital for your company, they can be supportive investors who follow on when the rest of the syndicate does, and they generally have good reputations, including with me.
The latter is when a company sees a business they want to get closer to, they take a big stake, a board seat, and they make a ton of promises about how much they are going to help the company. These type of investments and relationships have almost universally "sucked" for our portfolio companies. The corporate strategic investor's objectives are generally at odds with the objectives of the entrepreneur, the company, and the financial investors. I strongly advise against entering into these kinds of relationships.
I apologize to all of the corporate venture firms that I insulted on Thursday night. I've got a lot of scars, deep and painful, on this topic and I let that come out in a way that was not right. I'm sorry about that.