Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #13 – Drew Clark of IBM Venture Capital Group

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Entrepreneurs who were doing business in the eighties might still remember IBM for its suits and corporate ways. Now Drew Clark, the co-founder of the IBM Venture Capital Group, has shed his tie and is changing that image. His group is opening up IBM’s vast resources to startups. Unlike some of its competitors, IBM has embraced open source software which makes it easer and cheaper to deploy technology. While IBM offers all types of help to entrepreneurs, Drew stresses the IB more than the M: being international and helping with business development over just assisting with the machines.

Show notes:

1:10 Starting at IBM

  • Joined in 1982.
  • Was the IBM ‘Search Czar.’
  • Started Venture Capital Group in fall of 2000.

4:40 IBM’s history

  • ‘I’d put these times up against those times [mid-80s] any day.’

6:00 Advantages of open standards

  • Joe Kraus also mentioned in a previous show how easy it is to start a business based on open source.

10:20 Why work with IBM?

  • ‘Business life is very difficult, technology is relatively easy.’
  • Mentions IBM’s developerWorks and alphaWorks.

13:40 Startups IBM is working with

  • Working with Yeepay in China and Laszlo Systems to name a few.
  • ‘Chances are, if it’s a top-tier venture-backed startup, we’ve worked with them.’

16:05 IBM Virtual Innovation Center

21:45 Measuring success

  • IBM has 850 partners.
  • ‘We’re hungry for partners.’

26:25 IBM’s venture team

  • About 25 people in Menlo Park.
  • Virtual team around the world.
  • Mentions sister organization, IBM’s PartnerWorld.

29:20 Other big tech firms

  • ‘It’s becoming harder to get some of those top people because Google is famous for fighting for them.’

32:25 The I in IBM: international

34:50 Just launched a VC Advisory Council

36:50 Pitching to IBM

Official bio:

Drew Clark is responsible for driving external innovation into IBM business units and identifying and developing new business opportunities. A member of the corporate strategy team, his focus is on emerging markets. A 20-year IBM veteran, Clark has held a variety of key positions in software development and technology, product marketing and emerging-business development and strategy. He has led several intrepreneurial initiatives,including the formation of IBM’s Internet Division. Before working withIBM’s Venture Group, Drew led IBM’s search, text mining and knowledge-management initiatives for IBM Software. Drew has been awarded two patents in software testing and Artificial Intelligence, holds a BS in physics from Western Carolina University and has completed all coursework toward a PhD in plasma physics at University of Texas at Austin.


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