26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Faran Nouri, managing director, Lam Capital
Faran Nouri is a founding member and managing director of Lam Research Capital, the corporate venturing arm of US-based wafer fabrication equipment and services provider Lam Research. She joined Lam Research in 2014 when the firm was looking to set up a corporate venturing unit.
Coming from an engineering background with a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in electrical and electronics engineering from University of Colorado Boulder, Nouri had begun her career as an engineer, first at Hewlett-Packard Labs and TMA (a Stanford startup), and eventually as a technology director at Applied Materials.
She explained: “I was a long-time semiconductor industry technologist when I dropped out of the industry to attend Stanford’s graduate school of business.” She was a director at Applied Materials for 11 years before returning to university to earn her second master’s degree, this time in management.
“Following graduation, I tried my hand at a startup, learned a lot about the startup world and its challenges,” she said, having been a co-founder at crowdfunded solar energy startup 98lumens. She said she “ultimately decided that I would make a better investor than a startup founder”.
On why she decided to join a corporate venture capital unit, she said: “There is never a boring day, I find the job extremely stimulating and interesting. I love meeting creative thinkers to learn about new technologies. As a CVC, I get to leverage my technical skills in an industry I know.”
Nouri’s initial responsibilities included drawing up Lam Capital’s vision and mission and specifying the areas of investment of strategic relevance to the parent company. She set up an evergreen fund and hired investors with domain expertise.
Today, the unit invests in early-stage companies developing technologies in the semiconductor ecosystem, artificial intelligence for manufacturing, additive manufacturing and other Industy4.0 related technologies.
Nouri said the unit had several exciting companies in its portfolio. It most recently participated in funding digital manufacturing company Velo3D along with Bessemer Venture Partners, Playground and Khosla Ventures.
Other portfolio companies include analogue compute chip maker Mythic.ai, plant-based medicines provider Antheia, 3D medical visualisation software developer Echopixel, DNA analysis developer Mission Bio and proprietary DNA sequencing platform developer Omniome.
Nouri’s ambition is to invest in still more companies that make a difference. Her greatest accomplishment to date in the unit, she added, was establishing the group, developing best practices and forming a network of partners to build a healthy pipeline.
Seeing corporate venturing as a long-term commitment, Nouri said: “It required faith on the part of the company in the early years, but we are now delivering strategic value to Lam Research.” Thanks to her team’s perseverance and dedication, the unit continues to deliver value beyond financial returns to its parent company.