26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Wendy Lung , IBM Ventures

Wendy Lung, director of corporate strategy at IBM Ventures for more than a decade, enjoys “trailblazing into unknown territories, so it was a perfect fit for me to join the ventures team and be headlights for our business”.

In an interview held in March this year, Lung told KoreaTechDesk that IBM Ventures’ model was “unique” compared with other corporate venture capital units because “we focus on working closely with the venture and startup community to drive strategic growth for IBM”. She added, “IBM will make select direct investments, but we prefer to focus on providing value to startups in the areas they need the most”, including “mentoring, market visibility and access to customers and experts”.

In addition, she said IBM Ventures’ mission was to deliver “headlights” for IBM’s business units by tapping into the innovations and disruptions “to engage with the best startups to help solve the business problems of our customers and to support our customers in their innovation initiatives”.

IBM Ventures not only supplies capital but also other resources such as time, existing technologies and customer base to create synergy and to help the portfolio companies to develop further.

As IBM is present in many markets around the world, it can identify startups in different countries through its global network of investors and partners.

IBM Ventures is stage-agnostic and invests in all stages with its Startup and IBM scheme, which provides free technology and resources to emerging companies that are strategically pertinent to IBM but do not have revenue as yet. “We generally help enterprise startups engage our global business units and customers when startups have product and traction in the market,” Lung added.

As an IBM-lifer, having joined the US-listed technology company as a sales representative in 1989, Lung has been a partner in IBM Ventures since 2008 and one of her earlier successes had been the creation of IBM’s first global program for startups in 2010.

She said for 2016’s awards: “It was exciting to rally resources from across the company to engage and provide value to early-stage startups.”

For example, last year, IBM Ventures participated in a $24m series C for US-based internet-of-things integration technology provider IFTTT in April, led by Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of customer relationship management software producer Salesforce. She has also been leading IBM’s exploration of an impact investment fund potentially similar to Salesforce Ventures’ impact fund.

Lung added for last year’s profile: “I have been publicly working with dozens of IBMs clients to match them up with promising startups for years. For example, I support IBM’s innovation partnership with Deutsche Bank. The new program is just an extension of that, called Innovation Hub.”

And while she has countered the Silicon Valley trend of company-hopping to build a career, she remains aware of the challenges faced by others. “For the past five years, I have been part of a volunteer organisation that assists people who have come across life challenges to re-enter the workforce.”

By giving to others, however, she has typified another Valley mantra of trying to help the world become a better place.