Well-connected early-stage investor Christine Herron is leaving seed-stage venture-capital firm First Round Capital to join Intel Capital, the chipmaker’s corporate venture arm. The move adds another voice to the ongoing controversy over whether there is a bubble in early-stage investing that’s causing tension between angel investors and established venture capitalists.
Does Herron’s jump show that corporate venture-capital funds are no longer waiting on the sidelines when it comes to seed-stage funding?
Well, in Herron’s own opinion, yes—and with good reason.
The movement toward established corporate venture arms putting serious money into early-stage deals is definitely gaining momentum, Herron told VentureBeat, though they will continue to invest in startups of all sizes and levels of development.
Herron was a principal with First Round Capital, a firm widely regarded as innovative in its approach to seed investing. Still based in the Bay Area, she will seek out early-stage consumer and Internet deals for Intel Capital starting next month.
She said it is clear that larger companies have begun to realize that they need to get involved as soon as possible if they want a piece of any major startup action, and need to move faster in general.
“It is definitely happening, it’s not just a one-off,” said Herron. She was impressed with Intel’s rapid turnaround in an investment she was involved in this summer that she began to change her opinion about working for a massive corporate operation.
“They were fully aware of wanting to be in this space, they put in the same amount we did, and they did it even more quickly because it was strategic for them to be there,” said Herron.
That’s a trend happening across almost all corporate venture arms she’s worked with recently, added Herron, as they add early-stage funding to a much broader strategic playbook.
“Whether you look over at Google or Samsung, they have the same pressure to get in early as any of the other players at different levels. And corporates get that, definitely,” Herron told VentureBeat.
“If there’s a company or space that you know you like, getting in early is the best way to make sure that you are going to be involved in the future,” she said. “If you want a seat at the table, you have to show up on time for dinner.”
Herron would know about showing up on time.
Before joining First Round, she was a director at Omidyar Network, after holding operational roles with Mission Research, NetObjects and Microsoft. Prior to that, Herron was the founder and CEO of software-as-a-service developer of international trade logistics systems Mercury2.
[Photo of Herron at DEMO Fall 2009 by Brian Solis/Bub.blicio.us]