26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Faran Nouri, managing director, Lam Research Capital
Faran Nouri is a founding member of Lam 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 (startup spun out of Stanford) and eventually to semiconductor capital equipment sector.
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 industrial manufacturing equipment provider 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 couple of startups, learned a lot about the startup world and its challenges,” she said, having been a co-founder at crowdfunded solar energy startup 98lumens, and head of business development at Ultora, a carbon nanotubes based energy storage company. 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 areas including semiconductor ecosystem, industry 4.0, AI for manufacturing – focusing on series A and B investments ranging from $1m to $5m per round.
Nouri said the unit has several exciting companies in its portfolio. “Recent exits include Velo3D (IPO expected to complete in August) and PacBio announcement of acquisition of Omniome. Other companies like Mythic.ai are expected to change edge compute as we know it today.”
Nouri’s ambition is to invest in still more companies that make a difference. Her greatest accomplishment to date, she added, was establishing an exceptional team, developing best practices and forming a network of partners to build a healthy pipeline. “We love to collaborate with other CVCs, and recently co-invested with Intel Capital, TDK Ventures and SE Ventures in Fabric8Labs.”
Seeing corporate venturing as a long-term commitment, Nouri said: “It required faith and forward thinking on the part of the company in the early years until we demonstrated our strategic value to Lam Research. Thanks to Lam Capital’s strong team, we have delivered strategic and financial value back to our parent company.”