SAN DIEGO – Hoping to leverage its might in the wireless world, Qualcomm Inc. announced last month that it had created Qualcomm Ventures, a $500 million venture investment vehicle intended to beef up its already hefty corporate venturing campaign.
In essence, the creation of an official venture vehicle is little more than a formality, as the San Diego-based digital wireless behemoth has a history of backing early-stage companies. Since 1996, the company has invested just shy of $100 million in 15 start-ups in the wireless communications, Internet infrastructure, communications devices and applications and enabling technologies spaces, including GTRAN Inc. and Phone.com.
The existing portfolio companies will be rolled into the new fund, and the remaining $400 million will be capitalized entirely by Qualcomm. The vehicle will stay focused on early-stage wireless and Internet infrastructure plays, and its average investment will be in the neighborhood of $2 million to $10 million.
In addition, it will likely stay on pace with Qualcomm’s previous deal flow of 15 investments a year, said Jeff Jacobs, senior vice president of business development with Qualcomm.
Besides putting the company in a league where it can go tete-a-tete with VCs for quality deals, the venture fund is a bit self-serving in that much of the capital will be invested in companies that can bolster CDMA’s popularity worldwide. As the owner of the CDMA patents, Qualcomm stands to reap great financial rewards if the technology catches on.