GM Ventures Aims to Ensure Parent’s Future By Investing in the Best Automotive Startups: Q&A With President Jon Lauckner

12/2/10Follow @bbuderi

In early July, General Motors announced the creation of its own venture capital arm, General Motors Ventures. The $100 million fund was set up, GM said, to identify and help develop and bring to market innovative automotive technologies. To date, the fund has made just two investments, but more are on the way (read on).

To run the fund, the automaker tapped GM insider Jon Lauckner. The new president of GM Ventures is not a veteran venture capitalist at all—but he does know the automotive world, including GM’s strategic needs around technology. Lauckner joined GM in 1979 and has risen to hold a suite of leadership positions that include VP of Global Program Management and VP of General Motors Global Product Planning. According to his bio, Laucknerba also serves as a member of GM’s Senior Leadership Group and had a hand in developing the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle.

Now that Lauckner is almost six months into his new role, I reached out to him to check on the motives behind the fund, how it is going so far, and what Lauckner sees as keys to—and milestones for—future success.

Our brief e-mail conversation follows:

Xconomy: What motivated or inspired the formation of GM Ventures? What needs are you trying to meet?

GM Ventures, LLC. President Jon LaucknerJon Lauckner: Establishing GM Ventures as a new subsidiary is a new way of doing business at GM to accelerate the introduction of innovative technology to support our core automotive business. So, our mission is to support GM’s vision to design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles by investing in automotive-related startups to ensure that GM vehicles have the best technology available.

X: What is your investment philosophy–types of ventures you want to fund, the time horizon you are looking at, industries, how you syndicate deals, and so on?

JL: We are interested in technologies in the areas of automotive cleantech, “infotainment,” advanced materials and other automotive-related technologies that can be introduced in our future vehicles in a 3-5-year time horizon. As a strategic investor, our investment philosophy is … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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