POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 9 executives helping Silicon Valley's biggest corporate venture capital funds pump billions into tech startups


Google VP Anna Patterson

  • Silicon Valley tech companies are some of the biggest startup investors through corporate venture funds run independently of the core business.
  • Some of the biggest names in tech have pursued corporate venture investing, including Google, Salesforce, Intel, Microsoft, and Dell.
  • According to a PitchBook report, Intel, Google, and Salesforce have the most active corporate venture funds based on 2018 data.
  • Meet the executives running the funds.
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Silicon Valley’s tech giants are placing their bets on the next generation of startups.

Instead of relying solely on a traditional mergers and acquisitions strategy, some of the biggest names in tech are sinking their own money into hot startups through corporate venture capital.

Here’s how it works: a corporation, public or private, can set up a separate entity to invest the company’s own money into private companies the same way any other investor would. The entity needs to be entirely separate, from leadership teams to workflow and information access, to the parent corporation to qualify for special exemptions reserved for venture investors. 

Read More: Private venture-backed startups like Slack and Airbnb are investing in other startups. Here’s where their money is going.

Many tech companies invest in what they see as strategic partnerships with smaller companies in similar or related fields so that they have access to innovative technology, but each fund, and each executive running the fund, is different. But according to a recent PitchBook report, Intel, Google, and Salesforce have the most active corporate venture funds based across industries in 2018.

Meet the executives running the corporate funds pumping billions of dollars into the tech startup scene.

SEE ALSO: This LA investment firm backed Ring before Amazon acquired it, and it just made several new hires to change early-stage tech startups

Wendell Brooks, President at Intel Capital

Brooks joined Intel in 2014 and was tapped to lead Intel Capital in 2017. Before joining the legacy tech company, Brooks spent about 21 years in investment banking for Allen & Company and Citigroup.

Brooks has led some of Intel’s biggest bets, including semiconductor design startup Movellus, medical device manufacturer EchoPixel, and electric plane maker Joby Aviation. His largest investment was in Horizon Robotics $100 million Series A in 2017.

David Krane, CEO & managing partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures)

Krane is a 20-year veteran of the search giant, where he originally joined as global head of communications and public affairs. He started working at Google Ventures, which later became GV, in 2010 as a general partner and has since worked up to running GV’s global operations.

Krane is mostly overseeing strategy at GV, but has also had a hand in the fund’s biggest consumer investments such as newly-public rideshare company Uber, startup investing platform CircleUp, and Nest, which was acquired by Google.

Anna Patterson, Managing Partner at Google’s Gradient Ventures

Patterson joined Google as an engineer where she worked on everything from scaling the mobile operating system Android, launching the Google Play store, inventing Google’s search serving system, and helping lead search ranking efforts through Google’s IPO. She moved on to leading the company’s AI engineering efforts before creating Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused fund.

Since founding Gradient Ventures within Google, Patterson has led investments in computer vision software maker Labelbox, developer management tool PullRequest, and open source platform Algorithmia. Her largest investment to date was in test.ai’s $11 million Series A in 2018.

David Lawee, Partner at CapitalG (Formerly Google Capital)

Lawee started his career at McKinsey & Company as an engagement manager after graduating from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He created his own venture firm in 1997 and also tried his hand at entrepreneurship before joining Google as a marketing vice president in 2005. He took over CapitalG, formerly Google Capital, in 2013. 

Lawee’s biggest bets have been in consumer and fintech companies, such as survey software maker SurveyMonkey, fintech startup LendingClub, and credit tracking company Credit Karma. His biggest investment was in ridesharing company Lyft’s 2017 $1 billion Series H.

Matt Garratt, Managing Partner at Salesforce Ventures

Garratt joined Salesforce from notable Silicon Valley venture firm Battery Ventures in 2013. By 2014, he had moved on from corporate development to helping run Salesforce Ventures, one of the most active corporate venture funds around. As the managing partner, Garratt oversees the fund’s massive capital reserves and helps execute the enterprise investment strategy of one of tech’s biggest companies.

Garratt has remained in a largely managerial role at Salesforce Ventures, but has led investments in startup data tracker Crunchbase and enterprise employee infrastructure company Simpplr, his largest investment to date.

Wendy Lung, Managing Director of IBM Ventures

Lung is something of an IBM lifer, having joined the organization 30 years ago as a sales representative. She has since worked through IBM’s marketing, sales, and business development arms before moving to the firm’s corporate venture fund. As head of IBM Ventures, she has helped create startup accelerator and entrepreneurship mentorship programs around the globe.

Since taking on a leadership role with IBM Ventures, Lung has led investments in semiconductor manufacturer VeriSilicon, engineering accelerator Hack/reduce, consumer health software maker Welltok, and platform integration tool IFFTT. 

Paul Bernard, Director for Amazon’s Alexa Fund

Bernard joined Amazon in 2013 to lead corporate development for Kindle and other digital services for the e-commerce giant. He moved to Alexa Fund, the company’s AI and voice software focused fund, in 2015. Before moving to Seattle, Bernard spent more than 12 years running business development for mobile phone maker Nokia in Sunnyvale, California.

Bernard has led investments in consumer health company Aaptiv, smart thermostat maker Ecobee, and voice software testing startup Pulse Labs. His largest investment since joining Alexa Fund was in Tact.ai’s $27 million Series C in 2018.

Nagraj Kashyap, Global Head of Microsoft’s M12 (Microsoft)

Kashyap has spent the last 20 years in corporate venture capital. He started his career with Qualcomm Ventures before heading to Microsoft Ventures, now called M12 (so named because there are 12 letters in the word “entrepreneur”). He is on nine different startup boards as a member or observer and focuses primarily on future of work and AI-enabled workflow automation technology.

He has led investments in workforce management tool Workboard, RNA therapeutics startup Envisagenics, and identity management tool LoginRadius for M12.

Quinn Li, Global Head of Qualcomm Ventures

Li has overseen Qualcomm’s $1B global venture portfolio for the last nine months after moving up the ranks at the San Diego-based corporate venture fund. He is a board observer for newly public video conferencing startup Zoom, in which Qualcomm was a major investor. Li has been at Qualcomm for 14 years in various roles, and was a product specialist at IBM, Broadcom, and Lucent Technologies earlier in his career.

Although he oversees Qualcomm Venture’s entire portfolio, Li personally led investments in mobile marketing software maker Verve, geolocation-based parking tool Streetline, and networking software creator PowerCloud Systems.