Intel Capital announces investments in eight start-ups

Intel announced at its Intel Capital CEO Summit event in San Francisco today that it has invested in eight new startups around the globe. Intel led the investments, which total $60 million, and the moves are part of the company’s counter-cyclical strategy to keep investing despite the downturn in the economy.

Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital, made the announcement at the ninth annual event and invited the CEOs of the startups on stage with him at a press conference. Sodhani said the downturn has not affected innovation and Intel continues to add to its portfolio, valued at $2.1 billion.

“All of the companies pushed forward the technology frontier in specific areas,” Sodhani said. “We will continue to invest, without worrying about whether there is market turmoil or not. That is what separates us from the other investors.”

In some of the cases, Intel has not been able to find co-investors and so has gone ahead and led five of the eight rounds itself, Sodhani said.

Steve Mitganag, CEO of Veoh Networks, said his company runs an ad-supported Internet video broadcasting site (see our separate coverage of Veoh earlier today). It has 30 million unique users, each watching an average of 100 minutes a month and 10 minutes a session. It raised a total of $30 million in its fourth round. (Intel’s share was not specifically disclosed, as is the case in each of the following investments). Veoh focuses on long-form video.

Daniel Kafie is CEO of the social networking platform for Latin America, Vostu. The company creates a platform for social networks, similar to Ning in its “build your own” social network options. It raised $1.3 million in a seed round.

Yuval Brisker, CEO of TOA Technologies, is aimed at solving the problem of waiting at home for a repair person or somebody else making a delivery to your home. It uses a software-as-a-service platform to enable companies to tell customers when those service people will arrive, down to a one hour window. The company is based in Cleveland, Ohio and has 100 employees. It raised $13 million.

“We found that nobody has done the work trying to estimate when the service person will arrive at your house,” he said. “We developed a web-based system.”

Ray Bell is the CEO of Grid Net. It addresses the build-out of the next-generation power grid. It has developed a Wimax-based smart meter for utilities. It can also serve as a broadband router into the home, using powerlines to deliver broadband access to the house and WiMax to bring it into the house. The company has release its first commercial products. It did not disclose the amount of its second round.

Accertify helps protect e-commerce merchants against credit card fraud. The company is a year old and includes veterans who fought fraud at Orbitz.com. It improves online security, lowering the total cost of fraud. It allows them to accept orders that they might have otherwise turned down for fear of fraud. It raised a total of $4 million.

Ondrej Frye is the CEO of the Czech Republic-based Internet Mall, an online retailer in Eastern Europe. He said it has $100 million in sales and has gotten that far without venture money so far. Intel led the round, which put a total of $45 million into the company. The company runs 45 e-shops with 1,200 product categories and 500,000 registered customers.

A couple of CEOs were not present at the event but Intel noted its investments in them. HealthtiNation is an online video provider for health-related videos that has deals in place with cable TV companies. Its amount was not disclosed. India-based Vriti Infocom provides online testing capabilities in the education market. It prepares students for both high school and college exams. It raised a total of $2.5 million.

The Intel event runs through Thursday and has drawn more than 600 CEOs from the company’s portfolio companies. Separately, Intel also invited Green Packet to talk about a previously disclosed investment. That company is a Wimax-based joint venture with Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank.

In the first quarter of 2008, Intel invested $83 million in 36 deals worldwide. About 81 percent of those were based outside North America.