Introduction to Global Corporate Venturing's Rising Stars 2019

The Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars – profiling the industry’s top 0.5%, the 100 people out of 20,000 researched – are harder to pick each year.

As the industry grows it becomes potentially easier to attract quality talent. The industry’s levels of professionalism and standards remain exemplary, set by those who have been fortunate to work over decades in the industry.

It is rare for any new recruit to invest billions of dollars inside their first 18 months as an investor, but when the talent and background is as radiant as it is for Jeff Housenbold at SoftBank Investment Advisers, ranked fifth among this year’s Rising Stars, then the effect of backing them early can be world-changing.

Housenbold’s vision has been to disrupt not only the $25 trillion retail industry through e-commerce and marketplaces, but to take the impact of software and the internet effectively into a new category – consumer services.

The bigger picture that Housenbold and this year’s number one, Russell Dreisenstock have seen is that services make up 69% of US national consumer spending, but the US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that just 7% of services were primarily digital, meaning they utilised internet to conduct transactions, according to a blog by Andrew Chen at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in November. Changing this will impact 125 million Americans who work in the services-providing industries, Chen added, and billions more around the world.

Naspers Ventures is looking beyond the US, with Dreisenstock helping lead large deals at the end of the year in education and consumer services sectors from his international investment role. And a global perspective is a prerequisite to having an impact.

It is an approach that has garnered applause. In his nomination, Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Ventures, said: “Over the past several years, Russell has led the investments of several companies that have begun to shape our future. He was the deal mastermind behind our food delivery investments, including Delivery Hero, Swiggy and iFood, and has also been instrumental in developing our edtech portfolio, including Udemy, Brainly, Codecademy and SoloLearn. Russell has a deep passion for seeking out innovative companies that are truly disruptive to bring into the Naspers portfolio.”

Meghan Sharp, managing director for the Americas at petroleum producer BP’s strategic investment subsidiary BP Ventures, ranked second in this year’s list of Rising Stars, has seen the team and portfolio grow from six people investing $30m a year at the start of the decade to 18 people with an investment pool of about $200m a year.

Being her third job in venture capital but the first as a corporate VC, Sharp told GCV that while some aspects are not as agile in a corporate environment, “the trade-off when a corporate venture capital deal is done right is a beautiful thing”.

It can help entrepreneurs achieve their vision, and the corporation achieve their strategic and financial goals. Doing both is often difficult, so having a broader mission or challenge can help.

While SoftBank is investing for the singularity – the merger of people and technology – oil major BP announced in 2016 it would adhere to an energy transition strategy to prepare for a lower-carbon future and, at the same time, help those billion people who have no access to electricity without increasing emissions. Sharp said: “It is an incredibly difficult problem to solve, maybe even impossible, but it is a problem more than worth getting out of bed for.”

A look through all 100 Rising Stars this year, and those who just missed the cut, finds stories and ambitions similar to those of the top two. All these stars are role models for the next generation.

Just as they have often been inspired by the qualities of their bosses, who are usually also featured in the GCV Powerlist 100 published in May at the GCV Symposium in London, so these stars and their peers are attracting a more diverse group able to find the angles and approaches to make money and help senior management.

Sharp’s boss at BP, David Gilmour, who will be co-chairman of the GCV Symposium in May, attests to the fact that her “presence as a leader in our business continues to attract female talent into our team and is a stated reason for many of them to join”.

While about a quarter of GCV Powerlist 100 leaders are women, including the other GCV Symposium co-chairwoman, Jacqueline LeSage Krause, about a third of GCV Rising Stars are women. The industry is changing and these are the leaders making it happen.

About the Rising Stars selection process

The process involved researching more than 20,000 industry professionals across more than 2,000 corporate venturing units. GCV was looking for those below the top rank of the venturing hierarchy in long-established units based on their deals, career development so far, being an heir apparent and being the glue in the unit.

For newer units, the criteria were more about ambition and desire to represent best practices and use experiences often gained elsewhere to improve the industry.

For both sets of Rising Stars, as well as the longer list of potential candidates and nominations received and examined, the input of their managers was important as nominators and for their feedback on why they, as a Rising Star, are so good.

About Global Corporate Venturing

My thanks to Liwen-Edison Fu for his help on this year’s research and supplement writing, Keith Baldock for production and Christina Riboldi and her team at CRA for the awards ceremony, sponsored by GE Ventures and Intel Capital, and to all the team at GCV for helping to make this happen.

If there is anything other help we can give through our GCV Leadership Society, our new GCV Connect communications tool to enable CVC leaders to message peers in the industry privately, our GCV Analytics platform that offers insights as a service by unlocking our proprietary data, the GCV Academy for specialist training at sites around the world with a two-day program in Silicon Valley in January, or our magazine and news service, let us know.

GCV Rising Stars 2019: Contents

The GCV Rising Stars 2019 PDF is available here