The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Barbara Burger, Chevron Technology Ventures
No sector has been roiled as much by economic and political turbulence over the past few years than the oil and gas industry with prices initially over $100 per barrel then down into the 40s before springing back to $70 this month.
But while a number of large corporate venturing units, such as that of ConocoPhillips, have seen significant changes in personnel, Kemal Anbarci, managing executive of Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), the corporate venturing and innovation unit of the US-based oil major, and his boss, Barbara Burger, president of CTV, have built a strong reputation for consistency.
Both became leaders of CTV’s corporate venturing arm in 2013, a year before oil prices fell by about two-thirds over 18 months before recovering just as Saudi Arabia is seeking to privatise its $2 trillion state oil company, Aramco.
Anbarci, who in 2016 celebrated his 25th year with Chevron, replaced Trond Unneland, who led the unit for nearly six years, while Burger replaced Des King in 2013 as president of CTV a few months before.
For 2014’s Powerlist, Anbarci said Chevron Technology Ventures had developed a strong position in corporate venturing because it had “stayed the course” since its foundation in 1999. He said: “What makes Chevron Technology Ventures function extremely well is the continuity of the venture executives. We got in people already in Chevron for 15-plus years, so they have credibility within the company, creating a stable venture investment culture.”
The city was then roiled by hurricane Harvey and Chevron has been at the heart to attract more capital to the city, the financial and industrial centre of the US’s “third coast”. In an interview with GCV before the Venture Houston conference, Anbarci said: “From our point of view, what has enabled Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) to be a successful venturing group and the longest-lasting continuously operating oil and gas venturing arm is our focus on resilient infrastructure.
“This unfortunate event confirms the validity of our long-term strategy and what we have to focus on as a company and as a venturing group. In the short term, we have a slightly different focus revolving around helping the local entrepreneur ecosystem. The conference we are organising with Shell and Global Corporate Venturing on November 1 is one of our initiatives to energise local entrepreneurs and accelerate their business activities into growth.
“Our strategy of supplying technology solutions to Chevron has not changed, neither during my term nor before. We try to help solve Chevron’s technology needs. However, we recently added a new program to help companies at seed stage to move to round A. We call it the Chevron Technology Ventures Catalyst program.
“The program’s goal is to help entrepreneurs who are already past seed-stage but have not yet raised sizeable round A capital. We target companies that have developed products or prototypes ready for field trial and are looking to attract venture funding to make it happen, but do not have the required structure yet.
“The idea started when I was having a discussion with Cory Steffek, head of Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures in Houston. We both noted a need for more local companies ready for series A investment. We established the CTV Catalyst program to help guide the selected companies via established business milestones and help them develop in a direction that will enable them to attract and secure venture funding. Two Catalyst companies have been announced to date – Rheidiant, a Houston-based company that applies industrial internet-of-things and machine-learning technologies to help identify small leaks on pipelines, and Ingu Solutions, which develops miniaturised inline sensors to detect leaks, geometric defects and deposits that impact pipeline performance.”
Its most recent investments – Lux Assure, which raised $2.4m; Airborne Oil & Gas, which added Chevron to Shell and Evonik in mid-2016; Panzura in a $32m round last year; and Maana’s $26m after leaving stealth in 2016 – reflect the convergence of digital technology, data science and other impactful innovation in oil and gas, according to Anbarci. “In our quest to reduce costs, they are able to provide creative solutions. Some enhance our ability to extend the lifetime of our facilities and assets, while others focus on reducing the cost of new development. Others move our massive amounts of data effectively, or extract intelligence from it.
“In addition to funding, we bring insights about the industry. We help facilitate field trials and introductions to our supply chain. Among all the companies we have invested in across our venture portfolio, over 80% have done field trials with Chevron and over 60% have become suppliers to Chevron. Ultimately this business model has been a great success story for them and for us.
“Our fundamental strategy has not changed over the years. We are looking at companies that can be suppliers to Chevron and technologies that will improve our business. All of this supports the transition into the emerging industry 4.0.”
Anbarci has a master’s degree in operations research and a PhD in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and an MBA from University of California Irvine. He also has a degree in petroleum engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.
Burger started as a research chemist in Chevron’s Richmond Laboratory. She went on to a number of management positions, including in lubricants, where she was vice-president for the global supply chain and base oils.
She is on the board of the Houston Technology Centre, a technology and business incubator, and also on the US Department of Energy National Renewable Laboratory External Advisory Council and the governing board of the MIT Energy Initiative.