Most venture capital funds that have 27 exits under their belt are not in stealth. In fact, most venture capital firms today don’t even know what 27 exits looks like. But Dell Ventures, in stealth until today, has been steadily investing at a rate of about $100 million per year. The group certainly knows what the market is willing to buy. It’s seen nearly 37 percent of its 70-plus investments exit, albeit with mixed results.
To date, only a few of Dell’s investments have become household names for enterprise nerds. Nutanix and Joyent are perhaps its two most notable exits. The former, a cloud computing software company, IPOed last year at $4 billion but has recently been hemorrhaging value and is now worth almost half that (may the lockout period ever be in your favor). Joyent, a cloud services company, raised $131 million but then ultimately sold to Samsung Electronics for $170 million.
That said, Dell’s exits alone have gone on to collectively raise $1.3 billion. The group brings the traditional benefits of a corporate venture arm to its startup portfolio — access to data, strategic sales channels and engineering and research contacts.
Beyond that, Dell Technologies Capital differentiates itself as a relatively market neutral player. Particularly in enterprise where the cloud remains king, taking money from market leaders like Google and Microsoft can feel confining.
Scott Darling, head of Dell Technologies Capital, explained to me that one of the key factors that differentiates the group from other corporate venture arms is its flat structure. Darling maintains regular contact with company CEO Michael Dell and the two regularly see eye to eye on investments.
Asked why the firm was coming out of stealth today, Darling told me that he simply thinks hiding his activity is more work than its worth at the fund’s scale. Within its current portfolio, the team will be looking toward notable bets like MongoDB and RichRelevance to pay off in a big way to both deliver returns and keep the spotlight on the group.
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