SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Intel Communications Fund and the corporate venture capital program of the Sonera Corp. announced plans in late February to cooperate in identifying investment opportunities in companies developing technologies for next generation Internet applications for wireless devices, said John Hull, director of the Intel Communications Fund.
The announcement came at the same time that Sonera endorsed Intel Corp.’s personal Internet client architecture, which enables development and delivery of Internet, voice and data solutions to the wireless world, Hull noted.
Since Intel provides core technology for wireless devices and Sonera is building carrier networks, a natural affinity exists for the two groups to work together, Hull said. “This is an opportunity for the two of us to collaborate on deals and expose our companies to the buyers/users of their technology, while Sonera will get some insight into the technology we are pushing before it hits the market,” Hull explained. “It is a win win for both parties,” added Kari Laento, senior vice president of the Sonera Corporate Venture Capital Program.
The agreement to cooperate is not legally binding and will probably take a number of different forms, including the possibility of the two groups co-investing together, Hull said. These forms will depend to a certain extent on the relationships between the two fund’s various deal managers, he noted. For example, the agreement to cooperate means the two corporate VC groups can have their investment professionals in Northern Europe, or anywhere else in the world, compare notes on promising opportunities in their area, he commented. “Sometimes we hit companies at a very early stage in the their development and we might be able to recruit a traditional VC into a deal a little easier, if we can say to that VC that both Sonera and Intel are interested in this company,” Hull said. However, each of the corporate vehicles will continue to reach their own investment decisions separately, he added.
The $500 million Intel Communications Fund invests in early-stage companies supporting Intel Corp.’s initiatives in voice and data communications, as well as wireless communications and computing. The vehicle is managed by Intel Capital, Intel Corp.’s strategic investment program. Sonera’s VC program, which is approximately $100 million in size, backs early- and mid-stage mobile media companies.