Javier Placer took over corporate venturing and open innovation strategy at Spain-based telecoms group Telefónica in 2013, two years after joining the company.
The group is looking for significant overlap of its Telefónica Open Future innovation initiative, which runs its incubator spaces of crowdworkings, accelerator program Wayra, VC funds program Amerigo, which backs venture firms, and late-stage investment program Telefónica Ventures.
Placer has been heading all four initiatives with striking progress. At the end of last year, Telefónica had €275m ($300m) invested in 680 companies through Open Future, led by Placer’s right-hand person, general manager Ana Segurado.
Segurado, a GCV Rising Star this year, joined Telefónica in 2012 to launch Amerigo, a network of VC funds with public and private co-investors focusing on tech investments, before expanding her role to the other areas under Open Future.
Amerigo now has six funds, with an aggregated size of €345m including Telefónica’s commitments, in Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile. It has 76 companies in its portfolio, including Job&Talent, Carto and Adjust, and its exits include Ticketbits.
Wayra, the corporate accelerator network of Telefónica Open Future with 11 spaces in 10 countries, has been its primary vehicle by volume, having invested €30m in more than 500 of these startups worldwide since its launch in 2011. In 2015, Volo, which was started at the Munich Wayra accelerator, was sold to Germany-listed Rocket Internet.
Since 2014, Segurado has also been leading Telefónica Ventures, the company’s corporate venture fund with investment focus in North America, Israel and Europe. Telefónica Ventures has invested more than €60m in 19 companies, including Quantenna, Sigfox, Boku and Cyanogen, and exited others, such as Box and Amobee.
For her Rising Star profile, Segurado said: “Telefónica Open Future has achieved €100m of cumulated revenues and savings for Grupo Telefónica, coming as a result of the collaboration between Telefónica and the portfolio companies.
“Quantenna is a good case study of success in CVC. Since 2011, and with current prices of the stock after the IPO, we have multiplied by almost four times the money invested, in terms of value.
“At the same time we have a great commercial relationship between Telefónica and Quantenna. Telefónica has acquired, during this time, more than 2 million chipsets from Quantenna, and Quantenna technology has been very relevant for the deployment of Movistar TV in Spain.”
For last year’s Powerlist, Placer said: “These data support the strategy of Telefónica and encourage us to get the same both in the rest of Europe and Latin America, as in Asia and Africa through our partners, thus maximising the value of the current network of open innovation.”
Telefónica’s success is perhaps understandable given he was previously head of his own consulting mergers and acquisitions and asset management business before Telefónica as part of a 20-plus-year career in investment banking.
Placer began his career in the BBV bank in 1991, which he joined after working at Beta Capital and Salomon Brothers. He holds a MBA from New York University.
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