Intel Capital’s Jeff Schrock on Trends in Video, Connected Consumers, and E-Commerce

9/2/09Follow @gthuang

What’s it like in the world of corporate venture capital these days? For Jeff Schrock, it’s pretty stable and good. Probably more stable than at many boutique venture firms, which are under increased pressure to raise funds and get quick returns.

Schrock is a Seattle-based tech investor with Intel Capital. In a previous life, he co-founded Seattle startup Activate—which was bought by CMGI in 1999 and then Loudeye Technologies in 2001—before becoming an executive at Yahoo and then RealNetworks. He was most recently an investor with Monster Venture Partners, until he joined Intel Capital in late 2008. Schrock is a board member of San Francisco-based Transpera and Seattle-based LearnLive Technologies, and chairman of EVO Media, the Seattle makers of the DevHub publishing platform, which recently became “ramen profitable,” as Schrock puts it.

A quick snapshot of Schrock’s current firm: Intel Capital has invested about $4 billion in some 400 companies, including a $1 billion investment in Kirkland, WA-based Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR). It has approximately 70 investors globally, about half in the U.S. and half international. The investment team is organized into eight sectors (including consumer Internet, digital home, and mobility) across 20 or so different geographies. Although Schrock is based in Seattle, his investment focus is not tied to the Northwest. But it’s where he has the most experience and contacts, so he has a unique perspective on the region.

In an e-mail interview, I asked Schrock about his new gig at Intel Capital, his specific investment themes, and the trends he’s seeing in consumer technologies and startups. Here’s a transcript of our interview:

Xconomy: Can you talk about your current role and responsibilities at Intel Capital, and how it fits into the arc of your career as an entrepreneur and investor?

Jeff Schrock: My job is to make profitable investments in companies which move computing and Intel forward. I am on one of our consumer investment teams—so it feels very familiar as much of my career has been in the consumer Internet. (Previously, I was an executive with both RealNetworks and Yahoo!) It is different, however, being on the other side of the table. I spent a good chunk of my early career as an entrepreneur asking, receiving, and sometimes begging for venture capital. I can empathize with the startups and entrepreneurs I have the pleasure of working with. But it’s still early in my investing career, so we’ll see if this makes me a better investor or not.

X: What is special about Intel Capital, and how does it differ from most VC firms?

JS: There are a number of things unique to Intel Capital. First, it is truly a global organization. It’s very easy to collaborate across sectors and geographies. This brings advantages to us, as investors, but also to our portfolio companies who can tap into a wealth of expertise and relationships. Secondly, because of the heritage as a manufacturing company, Intel Capital is very well organized. The decision-making process is quite transparent and structured. As an outsider who’s primarily worked in software companies, this was a welcome surprise. Lastly, Intel Capital is not a fund. Unlike our colleagues in boutique VC … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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