When Venture Capital is more than capital


14 November 2006

Venture Capital money is very expensive; probably by far the most expensive money you will ever get. The usual defense from the industry is that you so much more than just the money: you get experience, a partner and customer ecosystem, channels to market and much more.

An example where that appears to be working is Suite Two. Intel Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of Intel, has pulled together a suite of applications from its investment portfolio to what we would call an Enterprise Social Software suite. Integrating the applications with single sign-on and pushing the suite through its distributer channels, Intel appears to add genuine value to its investments that would have been difficult for them to achieve themselves.

The suite brings together popular “Web 2.0” applications from Six Apart (blogging), Socialtext (wikis), NewsGator (syndication client), SimpleFeed (syndication server), and SpikeSource (support).

It is not a natural space for Intel which usually prefers an arms-length, Intel Inside branded approach, but it is a natural extension for the venture capital arm. Might Intel eventually get into a situation where the tail is wagging the dog and the Capital arm is the bigger unit, as happened at GE Finance? With the current pricing model for Suite Two which is a considerable premium to the individual components probably not, but maybe in the future.

And presumably it by now goes without saying that Enterprise Social Software is completely mainstream and no more industry-specific than the telephone?