Dell Is Merging Its Venture Capital Units

May 08, 2017

Dell Technologies said on Monday it has combined the venture capital operations from its two predecessor companies, computer maker Dell Inc and data storage firm EMC, and said it plans to invest about $100 million a year in startups.

Dell also revealed a portfolio of 70 existing and prior investments made by both operations, some of which, like Arista Networks, which went public in 2014, had not been previously disclosed.

Dell Technologies, run by Dell founder and PC pioneer Michael Dell, is the result of the $67 billion merger between the two companies in 2015, which created the largest privately held technology company in the world.

Before the deal, both companies maintained venture capital operations, called Dell Ventures and EMC Ventures. Most large Silicon Valley firms run venture capital arms as a way of keeping in touch with emerging tech companies.

The two groups in question operated differently and had different structures, according to Dell Technologies.

EMC Ventures, headed by Scott Darling, invested capital held on EMC's balance sheet. Dell Ventures, headed by Jim Lussier invested from specifically created funds—a $60 million fund aimed at storage startups launched in 2012 and a broader $300 million fund aimed at later-stage startups like Dropbox in 2013—in which the parent company was the only limited partner.

The newly combined unit, called Dell Technologies Capital, will operate along similar lines to EMC's venture capital operation, investing average sums of $3 million to $10 million in both early- and late-stage startups from the parent's $118.2 billion balance sheet, the company said.

The unit is headed by Darling, previously at EMC. Lussier left Dell in August 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. Lussier did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Darling said the new fund's investments will consist of companies that Dell Technologies might eventually want to acquire and startups that help the broader data center ecosystem.

Dell's new venture group disclosed that its portfolio includes Barefoot Networks, which has also received an investment from Dell's rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Ontonomo, an Israeli firm that makes technology for internet-connected vehicles and has received an investment from Delphi Automotive.

Dell also revealed prior investments in companies that have since gone public or been sold, such as Arista and Anobit, which Apple acquired in 2012.

"We ran the group in stealth mode for five years, which gave us greater latitude," Darling said of the firm's private investments.

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