According to many, 2010 was a very mixed year for the Venture Capital community – returns and deals peaked and troughed throughout the year. But ebbs and flows in any industry, creates opportunities for new players, different players, or different ways of playing altogether.
Last week, BMW announced it’s new Corporate Venture fund – “BMW i Ventures” – which it considers a part of a bigger “movement” in the automotive industry. There is no doubt of the ‘cool’ factor BMW is trying to bring to it’s “i” initiative, which is essentially a marketing wrap around it’s move into electric vehicles. With the move to electric vehicles, many are forecasting big changes in the way we use cars and travel. We’re already using mobile apps to find local restaurants, share our location and experiences of events and businesses. Which is why BMW i Ventures’ first showcase investment is in the iPhone developer behind ‘myWay’ who pull together hundreds of local data providers into one app for major cities.
This is ‘Cool’ Corporate Venturing at it’s best – a demonstration by BMW of their power and thought leadership, but with the potential upside in the ‘geoweb‘ providers that are going to change the way we shop, travel, share and experience our lives. Not forgetting the blatant insertion of the letter ‘i’ into their fund’s name!
But is this part of a larger trend? Are more companies in 2011 going to be launching their own funds, whilst VCs and PE houses struggle to raise the sums they used to be able to attract…
UPDATE: Check out the following resource for a list of Corporate Venture funds:
And this article looking at the future decade of growth in corporate venturing: