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Santa Clara semiconducter company Applied Materials is opening up a venture arm, only a year after it had shuttered its previous one.

This is the sort of thing that gives corporate venture capital arms a bad name. They are fickle, and start-ups never know if they will be there for the long-haul or not. Back in 2001, when the tech meltdown was hitting venture capital hard, we wrote about how all these big corporations were closing their venture capital arms. Corporate venture groups are the first to go during tough times. And when the sun comes out again, as predictable as a cow ambles up to a trough, they will be…

back again.

To be fair, Applied Materials hung in there longer than most. As mentioned, it only shut down its $23 million venture arm in 2004, which we we reported here. Back in the dog days of 2003, we caught up with the VC arm’s partners Julien Nguyen and Fahri Diner. They told us about the dreaded “Series B massacre,” which is when things got so bad that start-ups would get killed while raising a second round of funding because investors would demand a huge portion of the company in return for a miniscule amount of funding.

Now it appears Nguyen and Diner have moved on.

Today, Applied Materials announced it is opening up its venture arm again, to make seed and early-stage investments into technology companies up to $25 million annually. We haven’t talked with Applied yet, but no mention of Nguyen and Diner.

UPDATE: Nguyen and Diner launched their own venture firm, Concept Ventures, based in Menlo Park, VentureWire (sub req) reminds us. Here was original story, from Business Week. So basically, Applied Materials has launched a fund that is controlled internally, focused more on possible buyouts of the start-ups that it seeds.