The Top 10: #2 Dave Johnson, managing director, Intel Capital

Dave Johnson is managing director at Intel Capital, a corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of the chipmaker, who focuses on investing in the internet of things (IoT) and autonomous systems. Since 2003, he has invested approximately $85m in more than 25 companies for Intel Capital, resulting in 10 exits primarily in IoT and mobile communications areas.

Wendell Brooks, senior vice-president of Intel and president of Intel Capital, said: “Dave has a relentless focus on adding value to our portfolio companies. He has been a key player in venture and M&A deals for Intel Capital for 20 years. His knowledge, wide network and capabilities span a spectrum of investment activities and evolving technology sectors.

“Dave develops comprehensive investment theses for evolving technology domains such as computer vision and industrial IoT and ties those theses to our deal sourcing and selection decisions. He is tenacious and systematic in his approach to initiating and managing investment deals.”

Intel hired Johnson as part of the finance organisation in 1993 before he was recruited by M&A group in 1999 where he led 18 M&A deals. He also worked for Intel’s treasury team, supporting Intel Capital’s strategic communications investments.

Johnson became a technical assistant and chief of staff to John Miner, then president of Intel Capital, in 2004 before moving to wireless communications investment team as an investment director two years later.

He shifted his focus to IoT in 2015, providing $40m for eight IoT companies. He is keen on artificial intelligence (AI) application for IoT products and services in industrial automation, security and surveillance, supply chain, smart home, robotics, agriculture and transportation.

Intel Capital named him managing director in 2018, tasking him with co-leading the IoT and autonomous systems investment domains. Johnson enjoys CVC because he can help startups access technologies, business models, market insights, customers, partners and management knowledge.

He led industrial IoT software developer FogHorn Systems’ funding round in October 2017. Foghorn Systems chief executive David King said: “Dave led our $30m series B and he is a very active board member who contributes to our strategic and operating plans and team recruiting.”

An exit and company-building result for Johnson was network-on-chip technology developer NetSpeed Systems, having led one round and participated in another. Intel acquired NetSpeed in September 2018, bringing in a team with new technology to Intel’s core microprocessor group.

The unit rarely invests in a startup with Intel acquisition in mind – of the 670 portfolio M&A and IPO exits since 1991, the corporate has acquired fewer than 30 companies.

Sundari Mitra, vice-president and general manager of Intel’s silicon engineering group and formerly NetSpeed Systems CEO, said: “Dave and Intel Capital were instrumental to NetSpeed’s success and eventual acquisition by Intel.

“Dave facilitated project wins for NetSpeed with Intel and Intel’s partners, helped source executive candidates for key positions including a board member, and led a key financing round based on his first-hand view of our value to customers.”

Another exit involving Johnson was fabless semiconductor producer Beceem Communications which communications equipment supplier Broadcom acquired for $330m in 2010. “I was the main investor willing to make a large bet on a later stage follow-on round,” he said. “I led a $15m round that attracted existing and new investors [which led] to Broadcom’s acquisition in 18 months.”

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.