Sammy is the Managing Director and Cofounder of Blossom Street Ventures. Email him directly at email@example.com, especially founders.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for “Strategic Investors” — corporate VC such as Intel, Verizon, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, Cisco, InQTel, etc. The view is that these investors provide not only capital, but also guidance on the product roadmap, engineering/dev resources, critical introductions, and they’re often customers themselves. Demand for strategic investors lead us to ask: how important are Strategic Investors and are they critical to success? The answer in our view is ‘no’.
To arrive at that conclusion, we looked at the major investors in 149 tech companies prior to going public. We found that only 29 had a strategic investor. The remaining 120 companies had only traditional VC or financial institutions as investors, but no strategics. In other words, having a strategic investor was not critical to making it to IPO for 81% of the companies we looked at. The data is below.
While there is certainly value in having strategic investors, based on the low density of strategics invested in tech companies that have gone public, they’re not critical to success. What’s more important is to find investors that help when they can, are supportive (both financially and emotionally), and know when to step out of the way and let you do your thing.