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August 22, 2005

IBM creates VC advisory council

IBM Corp has created a Venture Capital Advisory Council in order to advise it on emerging market trends, developing markets, and in order to promote its ethos of open standards.

By CBR Staff Writer

The council is made up of a number of VC individuals, including venture capital partners at Accel Partners, Darby Overseas Investments Ltd, Draper, Fisher and Jurvetson, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, 3i, US Venture Partners, and Walden International.

The purpose of the council is to meet with IBM executives in order to compare notes on trends and notable companies in developing countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and India. It is also hoping to promote more actively the adoption of open standards in these emerging markets.

While IBM conducts meetings with a wide variety of venture firms, it will consult on a more regular basis with its council members, who will apparently gain access to top executives, decision makers and experts from IBM’s hardware, software, services and research units.

Speaking to ComputerWire, Drew Clark, IBM’s Director of Strategy at IBM’s Venture Capital Group confirmed that IBM intends to use the Council as a strategic tool to gain understanding on new technologies and innovations.

The council will also provide feedback on how IBM can continue to identify new partnership opportunities and help evolve its partner programs to best assist new start-ups in developing markets.

IBM’s partnership approach to new companies and technologies differs from that of certain rivals, which utilize a more traditional VC fund with the usual two to five year investment term, than IBM’s based partnership approach.

IBM did think about the traditional approach about five years ago, said Clark. However, the VCs we talked to told us they didn’t need IBM’s money. Instead, they wanted a partnership with IBM, along with access to IBM’s blue chip customer base. IBM’s approach means that the VCs get a go-to-market partner, as well as access to top-level IBM executives.

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Clark confirmed the council would most likely meet on a quarterly basis, starting off in California, but then expanding to world locations such as Europe, Brazil and China.

The Council as it stands is a starting point, said Clark. Over time, IBM will expand the council, bringing in additional VCs based on their expertise.

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