Formation 8 Hires Flextronics Exec Lior Susan To Lead Hardware Investments

Venture firm Formation 8 has been on a bit of hiring spree recently, bringing on multiple partners and advisors over the past few months. Today it’s announcing Lior Susan will be joining the firm to help lead its investments in the hardware sector.

Susan comes to Formation 8 from Flextronics, where he spent the last three-and-a-half years as part of its venture team and Lab IX hardware accelerator. While he was there, Flextronics made strategic investments in 28 different companies, but their contribution was more about helping those startups get their products made.

Prior to that, he worked in corp dev for GlobalLogic until 2012. He also was on the advisory board of IntuCell, which sold to Cisco in 2012.

At Formation 8, Susan will be tasked with identifying, investing in, and advising emerging hardware startups for the firm.

He’ll be relying on some of his learnings from Lab IX and previous experiences to do that. “Over those two-and-a-half years, we created a map of best practices for hardware startups,” Susan told my by phone.

By focusing on hardware, Susan hopes to help Formation 8 differentiate itself in that segment of the investment segment.

He’ll be looking for startups that have already built prototypes but need some guidance in getting those products through the supply chain, sourcing, and manufacturing.

“Hardware is growing fast and there’s a shortage of smart investors in the space,” Susan said. “We believe that to write a check is a commodity.” By contrast, Susan believes he can help startups figure out those processes.

Formation 8 isn’t exactly new to hardware — after all, it was one of the investors in Oculus VR before that company was acquired by Facebook. But it will be looking to ramp up its investments in the fast-growing segment.

“Our goal as investors is to be very contrarian and invest where others aren’t,” Formation 8 founding member Jim Kim told me. “We want to put stake in the ground as a lead investor in [hardware].” In addition to Oculus, the company has also put money into companies like Leeo and EVA Automation.

Formation 8 hopes to use its connections in Asia so the companies it invests can find partners for manufacturing and distribution. The firm was founded on the premise of connecting Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with Asian partners.

To that end, it has hired business development staff and opened branch offices in Korea, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai. The firm also hopes to leverage its network of partners and even LPs to bridge the divide between the two regions.

“We want to identify the best potential partners to help these companies grow,” Kim said. “Not only can we identify these companies, but… we can link those companies to the very best distribution partners and manufacturing partners.”

The latest hire by Formation 8 follows the announced close of its second fund, which brought in $500 million for new investments. In addition to Susan, the firm recently added former Matrix and Khosla Ventures partner Shirish Sathaye to its investment team, as well as bringing on veteran Silicon Valley investor Pierre Lamond as an advisor.

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