26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Ulrich Quay, BMW i Ventures

Ulrich Quay, managing partner of Germany-based carmaker BMW’s newly-independent BMW i Ventures corporate venturing unit, has had a busy few years.

Before setting up BMW i Ventures in 2011, Quay was senior legal counsel for mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures at BMW, having joined its law department in 2000 after being a top-decile student at University of Freiburg.

BMW i Ventures, which added Marcus Behrendt as CEO in August last year after an internal move from vice-president at the carmaker, has invested in 39 companies since inception, investing a total of $178.6m in sectors across artificial intelligence (AI), mobility, e-mobility infrastructure, connected car, e-commerce platforms, autonomous vehicles, car technology, transportation, cybersecurity and industry 4.0.

In 2016, it raised a €500m ($550m) fund from BMW as a sole limited partner on the understanding BMW i Ventures had full autonomy over investment decisions, according to Quay.

In an interview with GCV held in February this year, Quay said BMW was the sole backer, but the fund was a distinct unit, not working off the balance sheet. This meant Quay could pursue purely financial deals, but not solely strategic deals. He said the fund’s financial goals were “on par with the top VCs in the valley” with the fund acting like a nimble investor.

Its deals so far this year have included BMW i Ventures leading a $40m series C round for US-based child transportation service provider Zu-m, participating in a $22m series A round for US-based autonomous shuttle transport provider May Mobility, both in February, and a $21m series B round for US-based roadside assistance provider Urgent.ly in January.

In the third and fourth quarters of 2018, the unit participated in a $200m series D round for UK-based AI chip producer Graphcore in December, a $240m series H round for US-based electric vehicle charging network operator ChargePoint in November and a $140m series D round for US-based online vehicle sales service provider Shift Technologies in September.

The fund has also seen money flow back in with exits totalling $4.5m, including Embark acquired by Apple in 2013, Humin acquired by Tinder in 2016, and, both from last year, Stratim (formerly known as Zirx) acquired by KAR Auction Services and Skurt acquired by Fair.

The latest exit was carried out last summer, with UK-based electric vehicle charging points network operator Chargemaster being acquired by petroleum supplier BP for an undisclosed amount.

In addition, in January last year, BMW acquired US-based parking space booking service and portfolio company Parkmobile for an undisclosed amount after I Ventures invested an undisclosed amount in 2014, the year after the company raised $6.3m from BCD Holdings, Bluefield Investments and Fontinalis Partners, the venture capital firm co-founded by motoring corporate Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford.

Parkmobile’s platform enables motorists to hire car parking bays through a mobile app which has more than 8 million registered users. It connects with a number displayed near the space and can collect payment using online mechanisms such as Visa Checkout or PayPal.

Quan affirmed that “probably one-third of the portfolio has very close relationships with BMW; one recently received an $80m order”.

Like independent VC funds, this one, based in Luxembourg, has a performance pay scheme – called carried interest – for principals and partners. The team has grown from three in 2015 to 12 at the beginning of 2019. The unit promoted Kasper Sage to partner in the wake of his Rising Star recognition by GCV in January, Baris Guzel was also promoted to principal in the same month. Quay said two additional vacancies for principal and analyst were being filled as of March.