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26 November 2012

2012 Powerlist: Arvind Sodhani, Intel Capital

Rock star investor and manager of first global value-added venture unit.

Author: Toby Lewis, Editor

There are few venture capitalists with the profile to be rock stars but a good indicator of an investor’s clout is whether they can access all areas.

Arvind Sodhani, president of US-listed semiconductor company Intel’s corporate venturing unit, Intel Capital, is one who can.

He was given an access-all-areas badge for his Intel Capital Global Summit in California in October 2012 due to an overly-officious security person denying him access inthe early hours of the morning, he said. But while Sodhani can also walk the talk as a rock star – miming to rapper Psy’s Gangnam Style video and riffing with MC Hammer at an earlier Summit – he prefers to let his investments take much of the publicity.

With a portfolio of more than 400 companies and over $10bn invested in the past 20 years, Intel Capital is perhaps the largest technology venture investor globally and one of the most successful.

Sodhani, 57, has been a director of education company Smart Technologies and communications provider Clearwire and president of Intel Capital since 2005.

But while a noted dealmaker, Sodhani’s skill has come through in the management of the first successful global venture firm – lessons he learned in more than 30 yearsat Intel since joining in 1981, including as the company’s treasurer.

When asked, for a profile by Global Corporate Venturing last year, what he was most concerned about Sodhani said the company was “a people-driven business, so we are sensitive to the team, watching strategic trends and adding value to Intel”. 

Managing the world’s largest and most geographically spread venture firm of about 200 people, including 85 investment staff, has been built on methodical processes.

Sodhani said the bulk of the investors meeting companies had no managerial responsibility. “The others in the team provide that or are portfolio managers, in business development to help portfolio companies be successful, or in treasury to make sure the cashflows take place.

“Intel Capital is physically located in 26 countries – when a lot of VCs struggle to get beyond two or three – as we rely on the physical infrastructure of Intel, which is in more than 100 countries.

“Everything we do is scale orientated, not anecdotal based on an individual’s views.”

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