Strategic investors, defined as corporations that make venture investments, can be a valuable source of capital but are they critical? No. We dug through the filings of 199 tech companies and found that only 31 of them had a strategic investor (16%). The list is below.
Some industries have more prevalence of strategic investment than others. For instance, strategic investors are often present in hardware companies.
All the companies listed above are very successful as they’re all publicly traded today or were at one point, so we’ve concluded you do not need a strategic investor to be successful given that only 16% had a strategic.
Some of the companies in our own portfolio have strategic investors such as Match.com, GE, Cisco, Salesforce, the CIA, and Survey Monkey. What we’ve found is that in most cases, strategics don’t add much value. Rather, they’ve invested because they think the company is interesting and want to be in a position to acquire if the company shows great potential. In other cases (GE and Cisco for instance), they’ve invested because they’re heavy users of the product and want to drive the product roadmap.
If you are going to take on a strategic investor, make sure they don’t have any unique controls or rights outside of those granted to normal investors. For instance, some strategics will ask for a Right of First Refusal to buy your company, which can be very damaging when it’s time to sell your business. No one will want to buy you if they know that after all their hard work, XYZ strategic can cancel the deal and buy your company themselves. Also make sure that strategics do not have control over the direction of your product. It’s great to take their advice when that advice fits into the road map, but an investment doesn’t give them the right to mandate what you build.
As always choose your investors wisely, but don’t fret if the strategics aren’t a part of your business.
Sammy is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Blossom Street Ventures. Visit us at blossomstreetventures.com and email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invest in companies with run rate revenue of $3mm to $30mm, with year over year growth of 20% to 100%+ depending on revenue. We lead or follow in growth rounds and special situations like inside rounds, small rounds, rushed rounds, corralling investors with our term sheet, cap table clean up, and extensions. We can commit in 3 weeks and our check is $1mm to $4mm. Also visit https://blossomstreetventures.com/metrics/ for always up-to-date SaaS metrics.