The $13 billion question: Is the dramatic step up in corporate VC cyclical or structural?


Corporate venture capital has a difficult relationship with Silicon Valley.

They’re in, then they’re out. Sometimes they invest for return, other times they just invest to get a quick peek under the competition’s covers.

And the worst: When right of first refusal M&A clauses can hinder a startup’s future options. Other would-be acquirers can be loathe to even kick the tires lest they be little more than a stalking horse in a deal that’s already a fait accompli.

Corporate VCs move slower than a typical VC can, which is annoying to time-pressed founders. And frequently “the partners” aren’t great or even operating in a partner structure.

Think about it: Why would a top VC be at a corporate? With rare exceptions, they will never give the same partner economics of a venture firm, because politically you can’t have the corporate VC guy making more than all the other management. Some of the best and most lasting corporate VC departments have had to get used to the idea that they are a revolving door of talent. A place to prove you can be a VC, and then go and be a real VC…

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