Companies Boost Venture-Capital Programs By 400%

Corporations are jumping into the venture-capital business and finding it a profitable growth move, according to a venture-capital newsletter. In 1999 corporations formed venture-capital programs totaling $6.3 billion, a four-fold increase over the $1.7 billion allocated in 1998, according to The Corporate Venturing Report, an industry newsletter in Wellesley, Mass. And those investments are paying off. Apple Computer Corp., for instance, has turned a $15 million investment in Internet company Akamai Technologies Inc. into a stake worth $1 billion. Other major corporations reaping big profits on their venture capital investments include Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., United Airlines, Cisco Systems, Reuters, and United Technologies. "Corporations are building some truly impressive venture portfolios," says David G. Barry, senior editor of the newsletter. "Clearly this is good news for entrepreneurs and technology innovation. And it means that Wall Street is going to have to sit up and take notice of the profits these companies are achieving on their investments." In its current issue, The Corporate Venturing Report also notes that the merger of America Online with Time Warner is likely to create a new corporate venturing powerhouse, particularly active in new media and the Internet. Two of the biggest new venturing programs were launched by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Andersen Consulting. EDS has launched a $1.5 billion program, while Andersen Consulting is putting $1 billion into young technology companies. A list of the 10 largest new corporate venturing programs is at www.corporateventuring.com, along with a list of the 10 corporations that generated the highest venture-capital program returns in the fourth quarter of 1999.

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