Comcast, through its Ventures arm, ranks as the No. 4 backer of startups, according to CB Insights data.
The ranking was reported today by the Philadelphia Inquirer, which noted that, "Six years after deciding that it wanted to be a bigger part of clubby Silicon Valley, Comcast has become one of the nation’s biggest corporate investors in young tech firms."
Among those companies is e-commerce razor company Dollar Shave Club, which grew its customer base from 250,000 to 3 million from 2012-2016 and was recently purchased by Unilever.
Since 2011, CB Insights said, Comcast backed 105 early-stage companies, trailing only Google (286 startups backed), Intel Corp. (207) and salesforce.com (124).
“You need people on the street talking to entrepreneurs who are making these changes,” said Amy Banse, the veteran Comcast executive who heads Comcast Ventures, to the Inquirer. “We are witnessing a change that is as fundamental as the Industrial Revolution, and we are in the first or second inning of that.”
With offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco, New York and Comcast’s home base of Philadelphia, Banes described Comcast Ventures as the “Lewis and Clark” of the telecom giant. Comcast Ventures splits its investments into four categories: advertising, consumer, enterprise, and infrastructure, Banes told the paper.
“Not only did we realize a nice return,” Banse said, referring to the Dollar Shave Club investment. “We learned a lot in the process, which we are using to invest in new direct-to-consumer products and services.”