Spanish company Telefónica is in the process of implementing a corporate venturing programme with a global investment strategy and designs on maintaining the Spanish company’s global position by providing it with access to the technological investments. The company has built an ambitious early-stage accelerator, Wayra, active in a dozen countries with a more classic corporate venturing unit joining venture capital firms in syndicates backing more established entrepreneurial companies. Telefónica Ventures, the main venture unit of Telefónica, was moved into a digital unit at the company in September. London-based Telefónica Digital, under Mathew Key, has 2,500 employees, the majority working on research and development. Telefónica Ventures’ deals this year have included cloud company Joyent’s $85m round, $35m for financial services group Boku and $79m for antenna provider Quantenna. Telefónica’s Wayra, which means “wind” in Quechua, was born in Latin America with the aim of becoming an accelerator for the development of future Silicon Valleys in the countries where Telefónica is present, while Amerigo, a seed capital fund launched with co-investors, looks at later-stage projects. Created in April last year, Wayra is active in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela in Latin America, and the UK, Ireland and Germany in Europe, with entrepreneurs’ projects provided with financing – in exchange for a 10% share – access to Telefónica resources, including management and technical expertise, and a place to work. The company is now tapped into the most important dealflow in technology around the world, after moving into Israel and Silicon Valley. Tracy Isacke, director of the Silicon Valley officeat Telefónica Digital, said last year: “We moved into Silicon Valley as part of the acquisition of [internet telephone company] Jajah [in 2010 for $207m from a syndicate including corporate venturing peer Intel Capital], and also now have a presence in Tel Aviv. “We have the dealfow and opportunity to build around our presence there. These units all fall into Telefónica Dig-ital and are all aligned and working together. “There will be companies that come out of Wayra, that get backed by Telefónica Ventures and Amerigo, creating synergies between the three operations.” She said the company was backing venture because it believed it faced increased competition from new technology companies moving into telecoms. She said: “The strategy is more business-related, to create a business able to look to the future and what we might need in the future versus new competitors. “We will be using venture capital as one of the…
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Profile: Telefónica Ventures
Aug 13, 2012 • Toby Lewis
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