All kinds of teams are raising venture funds these days, so don’t be surprised to see more investors from corporate venture firms decide to create their own outfits, too.
They might look to Counterpart Ventures for inspiration. Founded by Patrick Eggen and Joe Saijo, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based outfit just closed a $110 million fund after investing a small amount across four companies as a kind of trial fund.
It’s a decent amount of capital for a young outfit, but limited partners (who the firm isn’t naming) clearly like the partners’ track records. Eggen launched Qualcomm Ventures’s Bay Area practice back in 2005, and when he left the outfit in the spring of 2018, he was the managing partner for all of North America.
While there are lots of reasons startups might want to hitch their wagon to Qualcomm — and Matterport, Noom and Cruise Automation are among those that did while Eggen was running the show — he does take some credit for persuading Qualcomm to invest in Zoom’s Series A round at a time when a lot of other venture firms didn’t see room for yet another video conferencing company in the world.
Meanwhile, Saijo is no slouch, either. After spending several years in business development at Hitachi, he later became the president and managing partner at Recruit Strategic Partners, the corporate arm of Japan’s Recruit Holdings. According to his bio, his most notable investments include Palo Alto Networks, DocuSign, 99designs, DataRobot, ShipBob and (along with Qualcomm Ventures) Noom.
Presumably, the networks of Eggen and Saijo were a draw for investors, too. Not only have they met hundreds — maybe thousands — of founders over their years in corporate VC, but corporate VC is its own not-so-little club, and the pair say they’ve actively fostered relationships with corporate venture arms, including hosting private events for the CVC community.
As for areas of focus, Counterpart — which is also run by senior associate Mikey Kailis — is focused on B2B SaaS, marketplace and mobility startups, and looks to lead or co-lead what it calls the “tweener” round, before a company’s Series A or Series B round.