a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: On Corporate Venturing & Setting Up ‘Innovation Outposts’ in the Valley

Sonal Chokshi, Evangelos Simoudis, and Michael Copeland

Posted May 10, 2016

Every big technological shift (per Carlota Perez) brings with a structural shift too — an “institutional adjustment” in how companies innovated and build new products, according to Steve Blank and Evangelos Simoudis. Large organizations used to (and continue to) set up remote R&D labs in places like Silicon Valley. But now, those companies are also investing more energy and resources in setting up corporate venturing arms and/or “innovation outposts” in such startup ecosystems — especially as they believe that startup-driven innovation is one of the best ways to keep up with and address disruption in their industries.

But… it’s not enough to simply establish a presence in these places; how do you also “sense” and respond to the right opportunities? Are they in the right places? Does beginning with corporate venturing really work for such outposts? And finally, how can these orgs avoid just acting out “innovation theater”?

Simoudis — who has also written about whether “the elephant can dance again” using the case of IBM and Watson/ AI — offers his views on how big companies can and should use the Valley (and other innovation clusters) in this episode of the a16z Podcast.