Comcast Interactive Makes First Hire –

PHILADELPHIA – Two months after its January launch, Comcast Interactive Capital Group, the venture capital subsidiary of cable operator Comcast Corp., hired veteran venture capitalist Samuel Schwartz as a managing director.

Mr. Schwartz is Comcast’s first deal-oriented hire since the group launched its $100 million VC unit (VCJ, February, page 5). He joins the company from Bachow & Associates, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., VC firm focused on high-growth technology companies. Mr. Schwartz, who concentrated on communications and software deals, made the move to corporate venture investing to take advantage of Comcast’s strength as a strategic partner to its portfolio companies.

“It’s a very competitive deal environment right now, and portfolio companies appreciate it if you can bring something more than just money,” Mr. Schwartz said, noting that the company is the principal owner of shopping network QVC, Comcast SportsNet and E! Entertainment Television.

Mr. Schwartz will spearhead Comcast’s efforts to uncover promising businesses in broadband applications and technologies, e-commerce and Internet telephony, as well as “anything that makes the Internet or television more compelling, faster and cheaper,” he added.

Since Mr. Schwartz’s arrival, Comcast Interactive has signed a term sheet for a $4 million second round investment in a King of Prussia, Pa.-based video conferencing company, V-Span, and the firm expected to close one or two new deals at press time.

Comcast Interactive also has invested in several partnerships, most recently a $5 million commitment to technology-focused, Israel-based Orion Israel Fund. The company also has invested in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Java Fund, Safeguard Scientifics’ Internet Capital Group and Media Technology Ventures.

The cable operator at press time had invested about $15 million of the $100 million allocated to Comcast Interactive in January, bringing Comcast’s total outstanding venture investments to about $85 million, Mr. Schwartz said.

Additionally, Comcast’s proposed merger with fellow cable provider Media One, which is subject to regulatory approval and is not expected to close until late in the year, may increase the company’s VC portfolio. Media One has its own venture unit and once the merger is complete, the VC units would also likely merge, Mr. Schwartz said. The two companies have co-invested in Java Fund and online investment bank Wit Capital.

Comcast Interactive likely will add another managing director, as well as one or two more junior staffers in the coming months. Comcast Interactive Capital is led by Chairman Julian Brodsky, also a vice chairman of Comcast Corp.