Comcast Formalizes Strategic VC Effort –

PHILADELPHIA – In an attempt to better leverage its core business, Comcast Corp., one of the nation’s largest cable television operators, in early January launched the Comcast Interactive Capital Group, an independent venture capital unit focused on the Internet.

Comcast, which will dedicate $100 million to the captive fund, is no stranger to venture capital, having made a number of investments over the past several years that enhance of the company’s broadband services, content and e-commerce businesses. “To take advantage of all the opportunities, we needed an independent organization to make it work,” said Julian Brodsky, vice chairman of Comcast and chairman of Comcast Interactive Capital Group.

Comcast Interactive Capital will be more opportunistic than Comcast’s original venture capital program, Mr. Brodsky added, explaining the company could not handle the amount of deal flow it was seeing under the prior, less formalized system. “By circumstance, we’ve been pretty passive [investors],” he said.

Mr. Brodsky expected the new unit to follow the same investment guidelines that Comcast has adhered to for the past several years. The company’s average deal size has been about $5 million, with commitments of as much as $25 million.

Comcast, a cable system operator that serves 4.5 million customers nationwide, sees a lot of potential in the Internet. Broadband cable lines offer higher-speed Internet access and better resolution images, and cable companies stand to make a significant profit as the Internet gains an increasingly wider audience.

“We see the set-top [cable] box creating a vast intranet,” Mr. Brodsky explained.

The new venture unit will consider geographically diverse deals that leverage the company’s existing businesses, particularly sports entertainment, e-commerce and high-speed data. In addition to operating its cable system, Comcast also owns QVC, E! Entertainment Television and Comcast SportsNet, in addition to investments in The Golf Channel and Outdoor Life.