Wind River Systems

Intel Capital stays in the VC picture

November 24, 2009: 7:18 AM ET

Corporate venture capital is one of the corners of the VC world that runs extremely hot and cold. When the startup world is gathering interest and money, practically every large company - even some small outfits - trots out its own venture investment group. But just as fast as they pile in with their corporate cash, the suits also run for the exits when times get dicey.

Take the previous tech boom-and-bust cycle. As the '90s ended and this decade began, corporate VC investment in startups soared from $468 million at the end of 1998 to $6.2 billion at the beginning of 2000, according to Thomson Reuters.

When the bottom fell out of the tech economy, the corporate cash crashed too, down to $848 million in the third quarter of 2001. Never mind that corporate VCs inevitably lose money on their deals, it appears that most public companies just don't seem to have the stomach for it.

Still, a handful of tech companies have consistently stayed in the corporate VC game, including Microsoft (MSFT), Qualcomm (QCOM), and more recently Google (GOOG). For these tech companies, buying technology and talent early is worth the risk (they all also happen to be sitting on billions in cash to invest). But perhaps the most steadfast corporate VC is Intel (INTC). More

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